When you push yourself too hard when training for a race or when you start running again after a period of being sedentary, you're at a higher risk of injuring your ankles. Ankle pain is a common problem among runners, and it can often be prevented by building up your training sessions gradually so your ankles are not stressed with repetitive motion. Here are some ankle injuries that might happen and some treatments that could help.
Causes of Ankle Pain Due to Running
Your ankle has a number of tissues and bones that can be injured. You might sprain or strain a ligament, muscle, or tendon. This can cause pain on either side of your ankle, and this type of injury often occurs when you twist your ankle. However, it can also occur due to overuse from too much running too soon. The Achilles tendon along the back of your ankle can become chronically inflamed and painful.
There are also bones in your ankle and a joint that could be affected by running. Stress fractures are tiny fractures in your ankle bones that happen because of repeated pounding on pavement when you run. These fractures can get worse over time and be so painful that you can't run at all until you get treatment.
Treatments That Can Help Ankle Pain
One of the first things your foot and ankle specialist will do is determine the cause of your pain. This might require magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or other imaging tests. Once the cause is known, the right treatment can be offered. Treating minor injuries could be a matter of resting until the tissue has healed. Applying ice and keeping the ankle elevated helps with swelling and pain. Your podiatrist may advise you against running until the injury has completely healed. You might be able to push through the pain, but that could make your ankle condition worse and prolong the time it takes to fully recover.
Your podiatrist may recommend other forms of treatment for more severe injuries and ankle pain that are difficult to heal. This might include shockwave therapy, corticosteroid injections, a brace or cast, or even surgery to repair a fracture or torn tissues. Recovery from an ankle injury often takes weeks because your tissues need to heal before the pain goes away completely and then you need to strengthen your ankle muscles before it is safe to start training again. Your podiatrist may even recommend wearing orthotic devices or protective shoes when you run and during your routine activities.
If you like to stay active in sports, then you may need to work with a sports podiatrist to help you manage a chronic foot condition that could be made worse with running and other activities such as jumping. With the right treatment and protection, your risk of injury will be lower. This will allow you to stay active rather than being sidelined due to ankle pain.