Running is a great way to stay physically fit, but everybody knows that sometimes an intense run can leave us feeling stiff and sore. One of the most common issues associated with running is sore ankles – but why exactly do our ankles hurt after running? In this article, we’ll explore the various reasons why running can cause sore ankles and look at ways to prevent and manage the pain.
1. The Pain of Post-Run Ankle Discomfort
It’s nearly impossible for avid runners to train without inevitably feeling a bit of ankle discomfort post-run. This sometimes radiating soreness can occur at different levels of severity, ranging from annoying stiffness to debilitating pain that requires rest. In anycase, understanding the nature of these symptoms and addressing them quickly is paramount to maintaining good health and enjoying that runner’s high.
Stiffness: Stiffness post-run is commonly caused by everyday fatigue. Anytime the muscles and ligaments in the foot and ankle area are worked hard, they get tired and need a little time to rest and rejuvenate. This soreness normally clears up within a couple days, but it can be prevented by using proper post-run techniques such as:
- Elevating the feet above the heart.
- Gently stretching out the muscles and ligaments.
- Applying icepacks for 10-15 minutes.
Bad Pain: Bad pain post-run can be caused by anything from injures to strong inflammation. It’s necessary to pay attention and not push the body past its capability, because running through pain can cause worse damage. To avoid overworking the feet and ankles, runners need to follow a few simple rules:
- Be mindful of running surfaces (rough surfaces increase the chances of a sprain).
- Expand warm-up exercises and ensure proper posture while running.
- Strengthen core and leg muscles to improve stability in the body.
- Take rest days and normalize the running routine.
2. Causes of Sore Ankles After Running
Muscle Strains and Exhaustion
Playing sports or running can lead to tears in your muscles around the ankle, resulting in pain and swelling. This is the most common cause of sore off ankles from running. When the muscles around the ankle become over-extended, they are not able to stretch as they normally do during exercise, resulting in a tear in the muscle or tendon. As such, it’s important to ensure proper warm up and stretching before heading out for a run.
Excessive Impact on Hard Surfaces
When running outdoors, sometimes the ground can be hard and uneven, which can put excess strain and impact on the ankles if you don’t wear the proper footwear or shoes that offer proper cushioning and support. In addition to that, running on the same terrain for extended periods of time can invariable lead to overuse, resulting in pain and swelling.
Wearing ill-fitting shoes can be the biggest and most common culprit behind sore ankles after running. Shoes that don’t support the heel and arch area of the foot will cause your ankles to twist inward or outward, thus increasing the risk of injury. Wearing running shoes that fit properly will limit the chances of this type of injury by providing support and cushioning.
One of the main reasons behind sore ankles after running can be the lack of hydration and electrolytes in the body. When the body is dehydrated, it can cause the muscle fibers and tendons to become brittle, leading to an increased risk of tears in the ankle muscles. If you find yourself constantly dealing with sore ankles after a run, make sure you drink lots of fluids before and during your workouts and replenish electrolytes to help keep your body hydrated.
3. Finding Relief from Ankle Pain
Ankle pain is a common complaint that should not be taken lightly. The cause of the pain can vary from person to person, but there are some general steps that can be taken to lessen discomfort. Here are three methods to start finding relief:
1. Rest & Ice:
The oldest tricks in the book, resting and icing your affected ankle can really be effective. Take breaks throughout the day to prop the ankle up, keeping it elevated above your heart level to reduce inflammation. Apply an ice pack 15 minutes at a time, several times a day, to reduce swelling, pain and stiffness.
2. Physical Therapy:
Physical therapy helps to strengthen muscles and tissues around the ankle joint, reducing workload and helping to prevent future damage. Your physical therapist can also work with you to design an exercise plan which targets the specific muscles and movements needed to improve your ankle’s strength and stability.
3. Home Remedies:
There are plenty of herbal and natural remedies which can be used to alleviate ankle pain. Some of those methods include:
- Applying natural oils such as coconut oil, eucalyptus oil or ginger oil
- Taking turmeric in the form of a spice and supplement
- Mixing essential oils such as rosemary and sweet birch
- Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents like ginger and boswellia
These home remedies have shown to be effective for pain management in many cases, but always consult a doctor if pain persists or worsens.
4. Treatments for After-Run Achy Ankles
For an athlete, aching ankles after running can be a real bother. It can affect your running performance and cause a lot of discomfort. Here are a few ways you can soothe those aching ankles and get back to your running routine:
Ice It– The simplest way to reduce the discomfort is by applying cold therapy or icing your ankles. This will reduce the inflammation and help relieve the pain. Wrap a bag of ice in a thin cloth and apply it to the affected area for about 15 minutes.
Compression Socks– Compression socks provide gentle pressure and help support the muscles and ligaments of the ankle joint. They also reduce the risk of any further injury to the area.
Stretching– Doing a few gentle stretches can also help keep your ankles healthy and reduce the risk of developing any further injuries. Try rolling the foot on a tennis ball after each run to loosen and relax the muscles.
Home Remedies– You can also try some natural, home remedies for ankle pain. Some of the most popular remedies include:
- Soaking your ankles in warm water
- Applying an ice pack with an essential oil such as lavender
- TMJ joint mobilization
- Massaging the ankles with epsom salt or magnesium oil
These can be very effective in relieving soreness and aches of the ankle.
5. Building Ankle Strength and Stability
Ankle injuries are one of the most common symptoms of athletic overexertion, so having strong ankles is of utmost importance. Here are some of the best exercises for :
- Heel Walks: Begin by standing on one foot and lift your other foot off the ground. Now walk forward by placing your heel first and then rolling onto the outer side of your foot. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Balance on Flat Surface: Stand on one foot and try to maintain this position as best you can. Work your way up to 30-second holds.
- Balance on a Single Leg: Stand on one leg and try to maintain this position as best you can. Gradually increase the difficulty by working your way up to 30-second holds.
- Calf Raises: Stand on a step with the balls of your feet hanging off the edge. Slowly raise your heels up and then slowly lower them back down. Repeat for desired number of repetitions.
Dynamic and Mobility Exercises. Dynamic exercises help to improve the ability to balance on a single leg by increasing range of motion and neuromuscular control.
- Deep Squats: Begin with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and toes pointed outward. Lower your body into a full squat as low as you possibly can. Keep your heels firmly planted on the ground.
- Lunges: Stand with your feet together and your arms extended out in front of you. Step one foot forward and lower your body until your knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Pause for 1-2 seconds and then return to the starting position.
- Single Leg Toe Touches: Start by standing on one foot with the other foot slightly in front. Now bend forward at the waist and reach your hands towards the toes of the front leg. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then return to the starting position.
Finishing Exercises. Finishing moves help to improve coordination and strengthen the muscles surrounding the ankle joint.
- Ankle Rotations: Start by standing on one foot with your other foot slightly in front. Now rotate the ankle of the front foot in circles. Repeat for desired number of repetitions.
- Double Leg One Foot Balance: Stand on one foot with the other lifted slightly off the ground. Hold this position as best as you can for desired number of seconds.
- Single Leg Calf Raises: Standing on one foot, lift the other foot off the ground. Now raise your heel as high as you can off the ground and hold for 1-2 seconds. Repeat for desired number of repetitions.
6. Prevention is Better Than Cure: Tips on Avoiding Ankle Discomfort After Running
Nobody wants to experience pain from running, yet so many of us put our ankles through undue stress while training. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your ankle muscles remain comfortable as you work out. Here are six tips to avoid ankle discomfort after running:
- Choose Proper Footwear: Invest in a pair of running shoes that are specifically designed to support your ankles. They should be lightweight and provide adequate cushioning and arch support for your feet.
- Take it Slow: Warm up thoroughly before you even think about sprinting. This gives your ankles and Achilles tendon time to prepare. Increase mileage gradually and stretch throughout your running session.
- Land Properly & Maintain Technique: When running, try to land lightly on your feet and avoid over-striding. Make sure not to lean too far forward or outward as this will put unnecessary strain on your ankles. Additionally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different running techniques to check what works best for your ankle comfort.
- Strengthen Your Calf Muscles: Exercise like calf raises and toe raises will help improve the strength and flexibility of your calf and ankle muscles, in turn reducing their likelihood of injuring themselves. Stair-climbing and hopping can also be useful activities for strengthening your ankle muscles.
The best way to avoid ankle discomfort after running is to prevent it in the first place. Invest in proper shoes and do your best to keep a good posture while running. Additionally, take time to warm up and cool down, and occasionally switch up your running technique or shoes to prevent foot fatigue. With a few simple precautions, you can keep your ankles healthy and comfy throughout your running sessions.
7. The Implications of Persistent Post-Run Ankle Pain
Ankle pain can be a debilitating experience – especially for runners. Whether you’re a professional athlete, casual jogger or someone just getting out and being active, persistent pain in your ankles can significantly reduce your quality of life. Here are seven implications of persistent post-run ankle pain to be aware of:
- Decreased Mobility: Persistent post-run ankle pain can impact a person’s mobility. The level of intensity may vary depending on the severity of the pain, and can range from slight discomfort to sharp, stabbing sensations. The most common areas affected are the front part of the calf, the arch of the foot, and the area behind the ankle.
- Potential Injury: Pain in the ankles can be indicative of a possible injury. Wearing an ankle brace or support can help reduce the pain and, in extreme cases, provide some stability in the joint. It’s important to listen to your body and seek professional advice if the pain becomes severe or chronic.
- Reduced Performance: When you’re struggling with persistent post-run ankle pain, it can have a significant impact on your performance. It’s important to note that this is not just about running, but any type of physical activity – from playing sports to going to the gym.
- Other Health Concerns: Chronic ankle pain can be indicative of other health issues, like arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and tendonitis. It’s important to get an official diagnosis from a medical professional to rule out any other underlying causes for the pain.
Persistent post-run ankle pain can be highly disruptive for athletes and non-athletes alike. From decreased mobility to increased risk of injury, these seven implications paint a picture of the serious nature of this issue. If you’re experiencing ongoing ankle pain, it’s important to take steps to manage it and find out the underlying cause.
So, if your ankles have been in pain after a run – you now know why. When it comes to running, it’s important to understand the importance of proper stretching and preparation. By taking the proper measures for a safe and comfortable run, you can reduce the post-run pain and ensure a healthy running experience for years to come.