Ankle Pain After a Run


Causes of Ankle Pain After a Run

Ankle pain is a common complaint among runners and can be caused by several factors including ankle strains, stress fractures and tendonitis. Most ankle injuries occur when the foot is suddenly unstable during a run due to an uneven surface, sudden change in speed or direction, bad running form, or weak muscles around the ankle. Ankle instability may also result from flat feet or high arches that don’t provide enough protection and support to your foot while you run.

Running on uneven roads, pathways or rocky terrain can cause disruption to the normal mechanics of running, which increases stress and strain on the joints, ligaments, and tendons. Poor running form can cause ankle injuries and too much force on your heel while landing can cause additional stress on the ankle. Alos check your running shoes to make sure your wearing the right shoes for your foot type and gait. It could be that your shoes are causing the problem.

Common causes of ankle pain in runners

Ankle pain after a run can be caused by several factors, including ankle sprains, overuse injuries, Achilles tendonitis, stress fractures, and plantar fasciitis. Let’s take a closer look at each of these common causes:

Ankle sprains

An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle are stretched or torn. This can happen if you roll or twist your ankle during a run, causing the ligaments to overstretch or tear. Ankle sprains can range from mild to severe, with symptoms including pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking. It’s very important in the first 24 hours to control the swelling and inflammation.  Treatment usually involves protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation (PRICE), and in some cases, physical therapy.  More information on ankle sprains.

Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is a common running injury that occurs when the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, becomes inflamed and irritated. This can happen due to overuse, improper footwear, or tight calf muscles. Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis include pain, swelling, and stiffness in the back of the ankle. Treatment may include rest, ice, stretching exercises, and in some cases, physical therapy.  More information on achilles tendonitis.

Stress fractures

Stress fractures are small cracks or breaks in the bones of the ankle and foot. They are typically caused by repetitive stress and overuse, and can be more common in runners who increase their mileage too quickly or have poor running form. Symptoms of stress fractures include pain, swelling, and tenderness. Treatment usually involves rest, immobilization, and sometimes surgery.  More information on stress fractures.

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, becomes inflamed and irritated. This can cause pain and stiffness in the arch of the foot, which can radiate to the ankle. Plantar fasciitis is often caused by overuse, improper footwear, or tight calf muscles. Treatment may include rest, stretching exercises, orthotic devices, and in some cases, physical therapy.  More information on plantar fasciitis.

Understanding the injury and its impact on pain

Proper running form and footwear play a crucial role in preventing ankle pain and injuries. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Maintain good running form

Proper running form can help minimize stress and strain on the ankle. Make sure to land on the middle of your foot and roll forward, rather than landing on your heel. Keep your upper body relaxed and maintain a slight forward lean. Avoid overstriding and maintain a quick cadence. Engaging in strength and flexibility exercises can also help improve running form.

Choose the right footwear

stress fracture treatmentWearing the right shoes for your foot type and gait is essential in preventing ankle pain. Visit a specialty running store to get fitted for the proper shoes. Consider factors such as arch support, cushioning, stability, and flexibility. Replace your shoes regularly to ensure they provide adequate support and shock absorption.

Consider orthotic devices

If you have flat feet or high arches, using orthotic devices can provide additional support and stability to your feet and ankles. Custom orthotics or over-the-counter inserts can help correct biomechanical issues and reduce the risk of ankle pain and injuries.

Gradually increase mileage and intensity

Avoid overtraining by gradually increasing your mileage and intensity. Sudden increases in distance or speed can put excessive stress on your ankles and lead to overuse injuries. Listen to your body and give yourself sufficient rest and recovery time between runs.

Warm-up and cool-down properly

Before and after each run, make sure to warm up and cool down properly. This can help prepare your muscles and joints for exercise and promote recovery. Incorporate dynamic stretches, such as leg swings and lunges, into your warm-up routine, and static stretches into your cool-down routine.

Ankle injury treatrment options

If you’re experiencing ankle pain after a run, here are some tips for managing the pain and promoting healing:

  • Rest and ice – Immediately after a run, rest and ice the affected ankle to reduce pain and swelling. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a thin cloth for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours. Avoid applying ice directly to the skin to prevent frostbite.
  • Compression and elevation – Wearing a compression bandage or brace can help reduce swelling and provide support to the ankle. Elevating the ankle above heart level can also help reduce swelling and promote blood flow.
  • Pain relief – Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Follow the instructions on the packaging and consult with a healthcare professional if needed.
  • Physical therapy – A physical therapist can assess your condition and develop a personalized treatment plan to help alleviate pain, improve strength and flexibility, and prevent future injuries.  Exercises, such as calf raises, ankle circles, and heel drops, can be beneficial in rehabilitating the ankle and promoting healing.
  • Cross-training and alternative exercises – While you’re recovering from ankle pain, consider incorporating cross-training and alternative exercises into your routine. This can help maintain your fitness level without putting excessive strain on the ankle. Swimming, cycling, and strength training are excellent options.
  • Listen to your body – Above all, listen to your body and give yourself the time and rest you need to recover. Pushing through pain can lead to further injury and prolong the recovery process. If you’re unsure about the severity of your ankle pain, consult with a healthcare professional.


When to see a medical professional

If the pain persists or worsens despite self-care measures, it is important to seek medical attention. A healthcare professional can assess the severity of the injury and recommend appropriate treatment options, such as physical therapy, bracing, or medication.