Why Do I Feel Ankle Pain After Running? Everything You Need To Know About
Ankle injuries are considered one of the most common sports injuries. (1) As a runner, there are many things that can cause your ankle to ache.
A friend of mine , for example, was dancing around in the grass and didn't know there was a hole in the ground. That simple step into the hole sprained her ankle and she wasn't able to run for a while.
Fortunately, if you feel ankle pain after running, it won’t be too difficult to diagnose the cause of the pain.
In this article, we’ll talk about five of the most common causes of ankle pain and then we’ll discuss how to heal a sprained ankle fast.
5 Common Causes of Ankle Pain
Ankle Ligament Sprain
This can happen for a number of reasons, the most common being rolling your ankle on unstable ground. If you are running on an unfamiliar terrain, it is easy to place your foot awkwardly and cause the ankle ligaments to stretch. (2)
The symptoms of a sprained ankle include the feeling of your ankles popping which may even be accompanied by an audible “pop”. The pain is felt above the ankle bone and usually gets worse the day after.
Another symptom is a noticeable lump on the ankle with swelling and bruising in the ankle area which can be very tender to the touch. The severity of an ankle sprain may vary from light to very severe.
On the other hand, with severe sprains, even standing may be impossible.
The Achilles tendon is a large tendon located at the back of the ankle which connects two muscles to the heel. It is the tendon that is responsible for allowing your toes to point to the ground as you run.
The condition is not caused by a single injury but is rather a result of repetitive stress on the tendon. For example, a sudden increase in your running intensity can cause the inflammation.
The symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis include a dull or sharp pain located at the back of the ankles, limited range of motion when you flex your foot and tight calf muscles.
In addition, you may experience swelling in the back of your heel when you try to walk. (4)
Chronic Ankle Instability
I never knew such a condition existed until my friend sprained her ankle. It turns out she has a history of constantly spraining her ankle with the slightest of twists.
Chronic ankle instability may develop following an ankle sprain that has not completely healed or wasn’t rehabilitated enough.
Failure to complete this stage can trigger chronic ankle stability. Once you have this condition, you will easily sprain your ankle which further weakens it. (5)
One of the major symptoms of chronic ankle instability is frequently twisting your ankles. This twisting may occur even when you are not doing anything intense such as standing.
I actually tried walking around the area where my friend sprained her ankle and there was a very slightly uneven surface. I couldn’t understand how she could suffer such an injury from just that.
Anterior Shin Splints
This condition is closely related to having ‘weak’ ankles. Anterior shin splints cause pain in the front outside part of the leg, just below the knee.
The reason that they are related to having chronic ankle instability is that if you have weak ankles, more pressure is put on the shin bone which can cause it to become inflamed. (6)
One of the major triggers of the condition is increasing your running routine too drastically. Also, running on uneven surfaces can put extra pressure on your shin bone.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
The condition occurs when there is a squeezing of the posterior tibial nerve which is located inside the ankle next to the ankle bones. Basically, the pain felt in the ankle is caused by the compression of this nerve. (7)
Some risk factors for developing the syndrome include having flat feet, varicose veins, ganglion cyst and swollen tendons.
In addition, if you have had a sprained ankle, inflammation in the area surrounding the nerve may trigger the compression.
The symptoms are felt either inside the ankle or on the top of the foot and may be either isolated or extend to the calf and toes.
It can take an average of six weeks to four months to completely heal an ankle ligament sprain depending on the severity. (8)
When it comes to Achilles Tendinitis, a few days with proper care may be all that is required. Those who suffer from chronic ankle instability may be facing a lifelong recurring condition.
Anterior shin splints may take 3-6 months to heal. (9) The pain caused by tarsal tunnel syndrome can be managed but the condition is often only totally removed after surgery.
Recovery after surgery may take several months. (10)
How To Heal And Prevent Ankle Pain
Depending on the cause of your ankle pain, there are some steps you can follow in order to recover in the shortest possible period of time.
Although ankle injuries are one of the most common and often take quite some time to recover from, knowing the cause of your sprain can be a great help.
Once you identify which of the five causes is likely applicable to your situation, take the necessary steps to speed up healing.
Once you have an ankle injury, you are at higher risk of getting another in the future so it is important that you strengthen your ankles and follow a reasonable degree of intensity.