Everyone experiences pain every now and then especially with physical activity. If you run regularly, jog, or are into any form of activity or sport then you are probably no stranger to ankle pain.
If you experience general foot pain after running or if you keep on asking why do my ankles hurt after I run, here are the most common causes of ankle pain after running and how to manage them.
Causes of Ankle pain after running
This is pain usually associated with stress or injury to the ligaments in the foot. Ligaments are the tough tissue that holds individual bones together in the body. Ankle sprain which is a major cause of ankle pain is due to abnormal movement of the ankle during physical activity like the ankle turning in, twisting, or rolling in any way that is hurtful to the ankle while in motion or running.
Ankle strains are a much more common cause of ankle pain while running and can either be acute (short term) or chronic (long term) and involve the tearing, twisting or pulling of a tendon or muscle in the ankle.
A tendon is a cord that works primarily to attach the muscles in our bodies to our bones. they are flexible, nonelastic, and made of Collagen.
Put simply Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon caused by direct injury to a tendon, it is clinically short term and should resolve on its own or with medication.
The Achilles is a very strong tendon and along with other tendons in the foot, it helps to facilitate balance and movement like running or walking. Achilles tendonitis is highlighted specifically when it comes to runners because it is the most common tendonitis developed by runners with ankle pain. Running with Achilles tendonitis is dangerous and painful.
Compared to Tendonitis, Tendonosis is relatively chronic meaning it is generally a long term injury compared to Tendonitis and it occurs with people who have had multiple injuries to a particular tendon over a long period of time or people who have incurred substantial damage to a tendon which does not heal properly leaving the particular tendon continually inflamed.
Also known as policeman’s heel. It occurs as an inflammation of the tissue running across the sole of the feet connecting the ankle to the toes. Sufferers of plantar fasciitis report bottom of feet pain after running, stabbing pains in the soles of the foot, and greater pain in the morning.
These occur due to due to stress to the ankle from repetitive movement or force for example the feet repeatedly hitting the ground while running. Stress fractures manifest as tiny cracks in the bones of the ankle and are a major cause of ankle pain in long term runners. Stress fractures are usually caused by overuse.
How to treat ankle pain after running
Treating mild ankle pain ankle pain
The acronym ‘RICE’ stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation and is used for minor injuries like when your heels hurt after running or when you develop a swollen ankle from running. With RICE an emphasis is put on “mild ankle pain” any form of ankle pain that is significantly limiting and puts you under significant pain or renders you unable to walk significantly should be inspected by your doctor.
The ‘RICE’ Treatment introduced by Gabe Mirkin in 1978 can be used as first aid in the event of injury with no immediate access to medical personnel.
- Rest: no form of activity or pressure on that ankle for 24-48 hours after injury
- Ice: icing of the affected ankle(s) every 15-20 minutes intermittently with a period of no ice to avoid frostbite. This helps to deal with the pain and inflammation associated with ankle pain after running and is recommended for the first 24-48 hours after injury.
- Compression: this is used majorly to battle swelling and can be done using elastic bandage compression stockings.
- Elevation: with elevation, the ankle is placed at a level above the heart in order to foster venous blood return and decrease the possibility of swelling.
You may also have to use nonprescription painkillers like NSAIDs as directed by your doctor while recovering from ankle pain developed while running.
If symptoms persist with no sign of any significant improvement after 3 weeks please contact your doctor to rule out the presence of a bigger problem.
How to prevent ankle pain after running
This section covers how to prepare for a run if you are prone to ankle pain. Preventing ankle pain after a good run would involve several proactive measures to ensure your ankles are willing and ready to bear the stress of your next run. A few good ways to prevent ankle pain after running include:
- Making use of insoles for running: insoles preformed and manufactured for runners, especially those for ankle support go a long way to protect your ankles from any future injury.
- Stretches: stretching helps build and maintain the elasticity and functioning of the components of the feet. Regular stretching is a sure way to keep activity-related pain away.
- Single leg exercises: immediately your ankle heals from a former injury or before any injury doing some single-leg exercises have been shown to reduce the risk of ankle pain development after a run.
Preventive measures more often than not are cheaper and less discomforting than curative so ensure you perform optimal warm-ups before undergoing any form of physical activity especially running. Also, foster the use of supportive running gear like insoles for running, and whenever you feel any form of pain in your feet slow it down and get it examined. For a better running experience, above all else do not push your self over your limit.