October 15, 2022

Why Does My Ankle Hurt When I Run?

Experiencing ankle pain when running is one of the most common and hindering injuries runners can abstain.

What starts a small twinge can quickly grow into an extremely painful injury. It can infiltrate your everyday life from walking the dog to grocery shopping at the store.

In this article we will cover what the possible reasons for your ankle hurting when you run are, how to identify symptoms, and how to treat your ankle. It’s time to get you off the bench and back on the track, find out how below!

Symptoms Of Ankle Pain

As you begin any sport it is normal to experience minor aches and pains as your body gets used to the exercise. But when the pain remains constant and doesn’t go away, there could be something more serious going on.

Here are some symptoms to be aware of:

  • Sharp, intense pain in any part of the ankle
  • Dull, continuous aching
  • Stiffness or swellings of the joints
  • Pain when bearing weight
  • Tender or bruising around the ankle
  • Pinching sensations

These can all be signs of a more serious injury taking place within the ankle. If your pain continues you should seek out professional medical advice in order to determine the root of the problem and the best course of treatment.

Causes Of Ankle Pain

1. Ankle Strain Or Sprain

Your ankle hurting as you run is typically caused by sprains and strains. An ankle sprain is the same condition that affects a ligament, whereas an ankle strain occurs when a muscle or tendon is overstretched or torn.

Ankle sprains and strains are frequently brought on by a single traumatic incident, unlike many other common causes of ankle pain that are brought on by overuse.

2. Ankle Stress Fracture

Stress fractures can also happen through overuse. When your muscles can no longer perform the shock absorption of repeatedly coming into contact with hard surfaces. This causes small fractures to form in your bone(s) which eventually break under the stress.

You may recognize a stress fracture by the name of ‘shin splints’. This is the most common form of a stress fracture and when left untreated they can become rather serious injuries. You may even end up in a cast for several weeks.

3. Ankle Tendonitis

A tendon that is inflamed and causes it to rip, tear, or bulge is said to have tendinitis. Your foot region can experience various different varieties of tendinitis, which might irritate your ankles while you’re running.

There are different types of ankle tendonitis to be aware of:

  • Tibialis anterior tendonitis: This is the tendon which comes down the front of your shin bone and connects at the front of your ankle. Running-related ankle pain here is likely the result of forceful, repetitive foot flexion.
  • Achilles tendinitis: This connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. If the pain is felt above your heel, this could mean your Achilles is inflamed and needs rest.
  • Peroneal tendonitis: This tendon connects to your lower leg bone and to the bony on the outside of your ankle. If you are feeling pain outside of your ankle, your peroneal tendon may be inflamed.

4. Ankle Instability

If you are a new runner, the cause of pain may be that your ankles are weak. This can cause your natural biomechanics in your ankle to struggle and fail when you land on it.

Often runners who overpronate, causing excessive motion and making it difficult for the ankles to support when running, will experience ankle pain as they learn to run.

If you overpronate then your supporting ligaments and muscles will have to work overtime to keep you stable. The placement of each step will be slightly off-balance meaning that your foot will roll inward and the muscles can’t perform shock absorption correctly.

Treat Ankle Pain

Now for the part we all want to know, how can you help alleviate your ankle pain when you run?

1. RICE

No, not the delectable side dish. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (RICE) is a recovery method used by many athletes. Especially when treating a sprained ankle.

2. NSAIDs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) sold over-the-counter are excellent for relieving ankle pain brought on by running. Only take as prescribed as soon as you are aware of your injury (24-48 hours) to ensure they perform best.

3. Braces

By restricting the range of motion in your foot with a brace, supporting wrap, or protective boot can help with painful stress fractures and chronic ankle instability.

4. Physical Therapy

This may sound extreme but all it involves is performing a range of exercises which can help strengthen your ankles and feet. They will even help prevent future injuries. If your ankle is in a lot of pain, give it some time to heal before beginning your exercises.

5. Steroid Injections

This will involve gaining the approval of a medical professional. These potent anti-inflammatory medications are a source of some debate since scar tissue can form as a result.

However, it can be highly helpful at treating tendonitis and arthritis-related ankle discomfort when utilized as a one-time therapy approach.

Final Thoughts

If you are experiencing pain in your ankle when running, there may be something more serious than an innocent twinge. Especially if you are struggling to walk, run or bear weight on the injured joint.

It could just be as simple as strengthening your joints with some simple exercises such as ankle circles and calf raises. Or you may need some more serious treatment such as a protective cast.

As soon as you are aware of any pain in your ankle or foot you should begin the RICE recovery strategy. Rest, Ince, Compress and Elevate.

This will give your ankle time to reduce swelling, if there is any, and begin to heal on its own. You may even find using NSAIDs to help with the pain within the first 24-48 hours.

If the pain progresses or is continuous for an extended period of time, seek medical assistance!

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