Running is naturally hard on your feet, ankles and legs. It is not uncommon to have sore ankles if you are a serious runner. This discomfort can be caused by muscle tightness, tendinitis, arthritis or sprains and strains. Practicing strengthening exercises on a regular basis and remembering to stretch before and after running can really help alleviate pain and prevent injury.
In this article, we will discuss the causes of ankle pain in runners and provide some smart advice to help you manage it and avoid it. Read on to learn more.
How to treat common running injuries
As a runner you may experience strain, fatigue or sprains in your hips, legs and ankles. Running injuries of all kinds can be effectively treated with these four simple steps:
1. Rest: When you hurt yourself, stop right away and take a break. Take as much time as you need to heal. Turn to alternate forms of exercise to stay in shape in the meantime.
2. Ice: Immediately after an injury, an ice pack works wonders to reduce swelling and inflammation and relieve pain. During the first 48 hours following an injury, lay toweling over your injury and apply ice. After two days, you can begin alternating ice and heat.
3. Compression: Use compression wraps, supports, athletic tape and/or splints to provide stability.
4. Elevation: Raise the injured area higher than your heart to prevent blood pooling and reduce swelling.
These 4 steps are commonly referred to as RICE.
A sprained ankle can really hurt!
If you do sprain your ankle, stop running and practice RICE right away to bring down swelling and minimize your symptoms. If swelling and pain do not diminish significantly within 24 hours, see your doctor.
After 48 hours have passed, begin light, gentle stretching and massage to prevent stiffness, encourage good blood circulation and relieve pain. If you experience pain when stretching, give it a little more time. You may need five or six days of rest instead of two. When you begin exercising again, you may wish to apply a heat pack to the injury before your warm-up to help relax the muscles and prevent re-injuring the area.
You may want to take OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen. Discuss your choice with your health care professional and be sure to follow his or her instructions. Once you are able to bear weight comfortably, you may wish to get right back into running. Using a well-fitted ankle brace can help you do so safely and comfortably.
Top 3 ankle braces for ankle sprains, ankle pain, & ankle arthritis
Ankle sprains range from minor injuries to very major ones. If you sprain your ankle slightly, it may swell a bit and be rather painful but it can usually be dealt with effectively at home. A serious sprain can cause massive swelling, a great deal of pain and may need professional medical attention.
12 tips to prevent running related injury
Many running injuries can be prevented with good planning and wise precautions. Follow these foot care for runners tips to avoid hurting yourself when running.
1. Take your pain seriously. If you are feeling any pain, it is an indication that you need to stop what you are doing and make some adjustments. Understand that there is a difference between normal muscle soreness and injury. If you are feeling consistent muscle or joint pain that does not improve with RICE, you need to see your doctor.
2. Work with a trainer to create a plan for running. Establish a daily workout routine and set goals for yourself so that you can make steady progress as you build up your strength, speed and endurance.
3. Stretch and warm up before running or working out. If you do not stretch enough before you start out, you are much more likely to injure yourself. Perform a gentle whole body stretching routine both before and after your run. You can use a foot stretcher, for example. Once you’ve warmed your whole body up with gentle stretching, pay special attention to your feet, ankles, calves, thighs, hamstrings and groin.
4. After you stretch, ease into running. Start out at a stroll, speed up to a fast walk (power walk) and then transition into running. Taking these precautions helps prevent injury.
5. Train for strength as well as speed. Alternate your workout so that you train for strength one day and speed the next. Lift weights and/or perform resistance exercises to strengthen your core muscles for better endurance and running performance. Being stronger all over helps you avoid injury.
6. Strengthen your feet, ankles and lower legs with focused exercise. In this video, physical therapists, Bob and Brad, demonstrate a wide variety of exercises to strengthen ankles and help rehabilitate sprained ankles.
Ankle strengthening exercises & stretches stop sprained ankles
7. Do your strength training alternated with running no more than six days weekly. On the seventh day, do something completely different, such as cycling, swimming, tennis, hiking or other active pursuits. Mixing up your activities helps you avoid overuse injuries and makes life more interesting.
8. Wear the right socks and shoes. Properly fitted socks and shoes are essential to safe, injury-free running. Examine your running shoes frequently and replace them when they become worn. Use good orthotics and inserts to give your feet the right support and cushioning to avoid injury.
9. Challenge yourself realistically. If you are just starting out, don’t run over rough terrain and or steep hills. Start off easily by running on a level track or other smooth, forgiving surface. Avoid hard concrete.
10. Avoid accidents by running in the daytime. If this isn’t possible, be sure to run in areas that are brightly lit, and/or wear light colored, reflective clothing so that you are easy to see. Carry your cell phone with you, as well as your ID. Don’t wear headphones when you run as it is important to be able to hear what is happening around you. Practice the buddy system. Either run with a friend or let someone know when you are going for a run and when you have returned.
11. Run in good weather. Running should be fun and good for you. Punishing yourself by running in extreme heat (30+ degrees C), in freezing weather or under extremely humid conditions is senseless. You will be much more likely to hurt yourself or damage your health and that is counter-productive.
12. Drink plenty of pure, filtered water. You should always stay well-hydrated because this is essential to overall good health. On the days that you run, drink a couple more cups of fresh water to keep your joints, skin, muscles and brain running smoothly.