It’s a familiar problem for many runners. During the closing stages of a run, or soon after finishing, your ankle begins to throb with an unexplained pain. Ankle pain from running is a common issue, and this article will look at what causes it, and how best to prevent/treat it.
Ankle Pain From Running
In this article, we will be looking at common causes of ankle pain, how to prevent ankle pain, and how best to treat it.
Analysing the cause of ankle pain can sometimes be difficult to do, and it may require some trial and error, or professional coaching/physio.
Everyone is different, and as a result it can be difficult to give advice through an article.
But this article should give you the tools you need to decide what is causing you ankle pain, and you can then decide what road to go down.
Common Causes of Ankle Pain From Running
Ankle pain can range from mild discomfort to unimaginable pain. It can also range from immediate pain that goes away quickly, to pain that lasts for months.
If your pain is due to injury, then this can be split between acute injury and chronic injury.
An acute injury is something that happens suddenly, usually due to an accident or bit of bad luck. Spraining your ankle or breaking it after slipping in some mud would be an example of acute injury.
Your body responds to acute injury immediately, you will notice pain straight away. You won’t be able to put weight on the ankle. It will soon begin to swell, and your mobility will reduce dramatically.
Acute injury can be caused by several things:
- Bad running technique
- Bad running equipment (ill-fitting shoes)
- Poor racing conditions
- Other runners
- Bad luck
A couple of these causes will be explored later on in this article. But the last three, will be talked about here.
Poor racing conditions means mud, water, bad visibility, slippery rocks, or any other way that nature and weather can combine to cause an acute injury.
Other runners represent a factor that you have no control over. Somebody could run into you, trip you up, or create an unwitting obstacle by tripping themselves up.
If your acute injury is caused by another runner you can at least comfort yourself that there was nothing you could do to prevent it.
Which leads us to the last cause, bad luck.
The more you run, the more likely you are to be on the receiving end of some bad luck. That’s the only real downside to exercise really. But it should not put you off!
Chronic injury is more subtle than acute injury, and a lot harder to diagnose. If you sprain your ankle after falling over, then you have a very clear idea of how it occurred and how to prevent it.
If you have a chronic injury then it could take you a while to figure out what is causing it. But what is a chronic injury?
Chronic injury is an injury that builds up over time due to overtraining or bad technique. Arthritis, repetitive strain injuries, and tendonitis are examples of chronic injury.
One of the annoying things about chronic injury is that it often occurs through no fault of the runner.
Your technique can be superb, your programming perfect, but over time the repetitive movements of running can build up and lead to chronic injury.
But it is much more common for a chronic injury to be caused by bad running technique or badly fitting running shoes (which causes you to adapt your running technique to compensate).
Chronic injury can cause a dull throbbing pain that lasts for a long time, or it can cause pain that only occurs while you are running, but occurs EVERY time you run.
It can also lead to inflammation and swelling, and an inevitable drop in running performance.
Bad Running Technique
This cause of ankle pain often falls under the umbrella of chronic injury. But sometimes bad running technique can cause low-level ankle pain without leading to injury.
Bad Running Equipment
Again, this cause of ankle pain can often lead to chronic injury, but it certainly is a cause of pain on its own. Wearing the wrong type of running shoe can lead to ankle pain and discomfort.
How To Treat Ankle Pain From Running
As you are now aware, there are two forms of injury, acute and chronic. Treating ankle pain can vary depending on what has caused it.
If you are suffering from an acute injury or ankle pain from running, then you should follow the RICE principles (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). You should then consider contacting a physio or doctor (depending on the severity of the injury).
Other than resting, there is not much you can do until your ankle has healed. When it is healed talk to a physio and they will design a program for rehabilitation (if you require it).
If you are suffering from chronic injury then you will want to see a physio or doctor as soon as you can. There’s nothing you can do to treat it on your own other than to rest.
What you need to do is look at why you are suffering from chronic injury. Which brings us to the next section.
How To Prevent Ankle Pain From Running
It is almost impossible to prevent an acute injury altogether. But you can lower the risk by improving your running technique, getting fitter and stronger, buying good running shoes.
Avoiding situations where you are likely to get injured (running in bad weather with extremely slippery conditions for example) is another way to reduce your risk.
To avoid chronic injuries there are several things you can do:
- Get your running technique properly assessed by a running coach
- Program your running so you aren’t overtraining
- Focus on rest and recovery between your runs
- Work on fixing muscle imbalances in the gym through resistance training
- Use tape strategically to stabilise the ankle (talk to a physio first)
- Stop running when you notice ankle pain
Conclusion: Ankle Pain From Running
Ankle pain from running should not be something that you ignore. We have outlined ways to avoid it, and hopefully given you a better understanding of what causes it.
If you are experiencing ankle pain, then rest and recovery should be your first move.
Getting your ankle looked at by a health professional should be your next. Then having your technique assessed and program looked at should be your final port of call.
You may also want to consider an ankle support to help your recovery and prevent further injury.
If this guide to ankle pain from running helped you, please recommend PHYSIFLEX.