In a perfect world, we would be able to run for miles without untoward accidents – but as runners, we often experience firsthand how this is rarely so. Despite careful precautions and adherence to proper running technique, most of us have encountered an unusually tight hamstring or pesky heel sprain at some point or the other.
Our ankles, knees and hips provide our bodies with the main propelling force needed for running; these same joints also bear the greatest risks for injuries. While these can range from minor to extremely serious, ankle troubles are particularly debilitating, as they restrict our abilities to not just train, but often, to even walk.
Reasons for Unhappy Ankles
From chronic injuries to sudden changes in running form, here are some of the main causes responsible for ankle pain in runners.
Achilles Tendinitis: Extremely common among runners, Achilles Tendinitis is an inflammation of the heel cord (aka Achilles Tendon) caused due to overuse, misalignment, improper strides or faulty footwear. Runners often notice a dull pain towards the back of their ankles and close to the heel, which gets particularly heightened during and after running sessions. Other symptoms include swelling near the ankles, and in some cases, a burning sensation across the joint and stiffness of the tendon area.
Ankle sprains: Rolling or twisting your ankle while running can often lead to painful sprains, especially when the fall tears or damages the surrounding ligaments. These can be quite severe and keep you off running for weeks. Resting, putting ice and compression on the ankle can help alleviate some of the pain.
Overuse injuries: These are common among beginners who increase their speed or distance too soon. Excessive pressure on your bones, muscles and ligaments compound the stress on your ankle joints and lead to injuries, especially if your ankles are not flexible to begin with.
Blisters: Blisters are external wounds caused due to improper footwear and friction between shoe and skin. Running for long distances also leads to blisters, and while they seem small, they can still be quite painful and take the fun out of your run.
Back on your feet
While a bit of ankle soreness is common after a hard run, it’s important to consult a physician if the pain gets unbearable over the next few days, or if you notice signs of redness or excessive swelling. Strengthening and stretching the area in general can increase blood flow and flexibility of the ankle joint, and prevent recurrent injuries in the future.
Exercises for ankle rehab
If you’ve just recovered from an ankle injury, now’s the time to step carefully. Keep the ankle braces on for as long as the doctor advises or till you feel comfortable running without it. Also, ensure that you’re following proper technique while running, especially when going uphill or doing speed workouts.
Additionally, pay good attention to your choice of footwear. Make sure that they provide support under the arch as well as in the front, and that the heel counter of your shoes is very stable. Instead of cross training shoes, invest in running-specific shoes if you’re more accident prone than usual.