If you exercise by running or jogging, it is no surprise you occasionally feel ankle pains.
This is because running puts a lot of weight and pressure on your ankles, which, if extreme, could lead to injury or pain.
Luckily for you, there are steps you can take to reduce the pain or even eliminate it.
So let’s look at the issues related to your ankle pains, and then you’ll learn everything you should on stopping your ankle from hurting so much when you run.
Why Your Ankles Pain When Running?
In most cases, the pains and discomfort you experience in your ankles result from overuse or excessive use. Running extensive miles without due rest or wearing uncomfortable shoes can lead to pains in your ankles.
A significant increase in the distance you run or pressure you put on your lower body will increase the risks of feeling pains in your ankles while you run.
Your ligaments, tendons, and muscles all work together to ensure the stability of your ankle joints while you run.
Abusive use of your ankles can threaten the proper functioning of these support systems, causing strains, tears, inflammation, turns, and other damning effects.
These adverse effects are all notable factors for the pains you get in your ankles when you run.
What Causes Ankle Pain?
The most common reason for your ankle pain is the overuse of your ankles, especially without proper support or recovery measures. When you run, you place a substantial amount of your body weight on your lower body, resulting in a lot of stress and strain on your ankles. Significant causes of your ankle pains include:
Ankle Sprain occurs when your ligaments get torn or stretched. Sprained ankles often happen when you roll, turn, or twist your ankle in an awkward position.
Naturally, your ligaments exist to hold your ankle bones together and stabilize your joints. When they get torn, you are most likely to experience pains in your ankles. The common signs and symptoms you’ll notice when you have a sprained ankle are:
- Pains, mainly when you apply pressure on the affected foot
- Unstableness of the ankle
- Constrained range of movement
While a sprain is a torn or stretched ligament, a sprained ankle is a twist or pull in the tendons and muscles of your ankles. Signs and symptoms you’ll get from a sprained ankle are:
- Pains when you move your ankle
- Difficulties moving your ankles
- Muscle spasms
Your ankle strains can be acute or chronic; acute strains occur almost instantly, while chronic strain would happen over several days or weeks.
Tendinitis is the irritation or inflammation of a tendon. While tendinitis can occur in any of your tendons, it is often present in the joints of the knees, ankles, wrists, and shoulders. This makes it one of the most common causes of ankle pains.
The condition is usually accompanied by pains in the ankles, tenderness, and mild swelling. Mild cases of tendinitis can be treated with enough rest, physical therapy, and medications.
However, severe cases of tendinitis might lead to rupture of the tendon and might need surgery.
Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone, mainly caused by repetitive running or long-distance running. You may experience stress fractures in your ankles if you run excessive miles, overuse your ankles.
Treatment for stress fractures includes resting or changing activity levels to allow the ankles to rest and regain strength.
Can Bad Running Shoes Cause Ankle Pains?
The type of shoes you wear while running has a practical effect on the state of your ankles afterward.
Wrong running shoes can cause a lot of damage to your ankles and might be the primary reason you’re experiencing so much pain in your ankles.
Wrong running shoes could be shoes too big, too tight, or highly uncomfortable. Shoes too big for your feet cause your muscles to tighten repeatedly with each step, causing your heels to get inflamed.
This type of shoe, if worn frequently over an extended period, can cause the tendons to become chronically inflamed.
While big shoes are notorious for causing damage to your tendons, tight shoes cause blisters, calluses, and pains.
If your running shoes have no room for your toes to move freely, change them. Running shoes should have enough space to wiggle your toes freely and should not be too big and uncomfortable to run in.
Here are some notable signs that you would notice if your shoes are not the best for running:
- Bruised toes or toenails
- Aching arches
- Blisters and calluses
- Toes grazing the top of your shoes
- Changes in how you run
- Toenail loss
- Extreme wetness after running
As much as you use the names frequently, you should also practice exercises that can help you strengthen them for running.
Your ankle muscle plays a crucial role in stabilizing your legs and supporting your movements. These exercises will help keep the muscles stable and robust:
This exercise includes moving your ankles 10-20 times in a clockwise motion, after which you can rest for a few seconds before moving the same foot in an anti-clockwise motion.
Alternate your legs and repeat the same process the same number of times. Ankle circles are a simple yet effective move that can help strengthen the muscles around your ankles.
This exercise is effective in improving both knee and ankle stability. To perform the solo leg lift exercise, stand on your right leg, lift your right leg until it’s close to your hip height, hop-forward, and land softly.
Continue by hopping back to your initial position, then jump diagonally to your left and back to the center.
You can watch a video or two to understand the procedure better. Do a few repetitions of this exercise, and you’ll surely notice some fundamental changes.
Squat jacks is an exercise that strengthens your inner thighs and your ankles. To do a squat jack, stand upright with your arms by your side, bend your knees to a 90 degrees position while spreading them apart.
Push through your heels, and return to your initial appointment. Do this repeatedly until your set is complete.
This is a simple routine of stretching your ankle repeatedly with a towel. The process will help extend the muscles of the ankle and also improve flexibility.
Sit comfortably with your legs stretched out to do the towel tug, loop a towel around your foot, pull the towel backward until you feel it strengthening your calf. Repeat the process a few times on both feet.
You can practice the standing calf stretch by standing upright and facing the wall or any object for support; place one foot in from you by 12 inches.
Point your toes upward, and slowly lean forward till you feel the back of your lower legs are well stretched. Stretch for about 30 seconds before moving to the next leg.
While many exercises can help strengthen your ankles, we cannot mention them all. However, below is a list of other practical training that you can try:
- Band stretch
- Cross leg ankle stretch
- Achilles stretch
- Standing soleus stretch
The first step to stop your ankle from hurting while you run is to rest. Ankle pains are a clear sign that you’ve overworked overused your ankles. Take a break from running and give your ankles some time to heal. Other remedies include:
Using ice packs on your ankles will help reduce the inflammations and numb your pains in the affected area. Ice packs are effective in pain reduction because cold constricts blood vessels decrease circulation to the site.
Compression can help stop your ankle from hurting because it decreases swelling and helps to stabilize your ankles by immobilizing them.
Wrap it with an elastic band and use compression sleeves designed explicitly for the ankles to compress your ankle. It will help if you apply compression immediately after the sprain occurs. After wrapping, leave for 48-72 hours.
Elevating your ankle is the perfect hack for you to reduce or prevent fluid accumulation in your ankle joints.
This process helps reduce swelling and also ease pains. Keep the ankles raised above the heart if possible, ensure that you keep your ankles and foot elevated.
It is no news that running puts a lot of stress and pressure on your ankles. Getting familiar with this and quick, easy hacks will help you handle ankle pains better.
Avoid overusing your ankles, rest when necessary and treat your ankles with a little more compassion. If pain persists, ensure that you pay a visit to your doctor.
Healthline: Pain during and after running
Orthopedic Associates: Do your ankles hurt when you run