Beginner Running with Ankle Pain

by Rachel
(Hudson, NH)

beginner runner with ankle pain

I am 48 years old and I started running a couple weeks ago. You know run, walk when needed type stuff.

I have gone out about five times doing pretty well.

Last night I noticed my ankle bothering me and I didn't twist it or anything so I'm not sure what that's all about?

I do have good sneakers. So it puzzles me this happens five times into it. There had been three days in between the last time I ran.

Any ideas?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,

Thanks for reaching out with your query about the onset of ankle pain following your running. You've touched on a topic that can be complex but is really important for runners, no matter their experience or frequency of running. So, let's break it down into digestible chunks.

1. Why do runners get ankle pain?
2. How to treat ankle pain
3. How to prevent ankle pain

Why Do Runners Get Ankle Pain

beginner runner with ankle pain
Firstly, why do runners get ankle pain? When people think of running injuries, they often consider things like sprained ankles or injuries caused by twisting or turning the ankle. But, running-related ankle pain can spring from various sources, not all of which are traumatic.

When you're running, every single step sends a shock through your body, absorbed primarily by your legs and particularly your ankles, which bear a significant part of the strain. There's a whole system in your ankle consisting of tendons, ligaments, and joints that get involved in this shock-absorbing process. Sometimes, these elements can rub against each other or get strained, which can cause inflammation or micro-tears in the tissue. Repeat this over several running sessions, and it could lead to pain, even if you haven't had an obvious injury event like a twist or turn.

Furthermore, every runner has their unique gait - the way we run – based on their body's individual biomechanics. Sometimes, the biomechanics can be a factor, particularly if the foot rolls inward excessively, which can put extra pressure on the ankles.

How to Treat Ankle Pain

beginner runner with ankle pain
Now, let's talk about first treatment options. Well, you've done the crucial first step: noticing and acknowledging the pain. The tendency among runners is to 'run through the pain,' but that's not the best approach. When you feel this kind of discomfort, it's your body's way of saying, "Hey, something's not right here!"

Going forward, the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method is universally recommended for acute injuries and inflammation like runner's ankle. Rest is crucial: your body needs time to heal itself. Ice can also be beneficial and can be applied as an ice pack for 20 minutes at a time to decrease inflammation and numb the pain. Remember not to apply ice directly to your skin; use a towel or an ice bag. Compression can help limit swelling and provide support, and elevating your ankle helps control swelling too.

If your pain is severe, persists even after rest and self-care, or if you notice other alarming symptoms (like severe swelling, inability to move your foot, or drastic changes in your skin color), it would be best to visit a healthcare provider to get a proper diagnosis.

How to Prevent Ankle Pain?

beginner runner with ankle pain
Lastly, prevention - though, with running, as with any other physical activity, injuries can happen. But there are things you can do to minimize the risks. Investing in good sneakers is definitely vital (well done on this already!), but remember that even the best sneakers wear out and need to be replaced.

Additionally, warming up before you run and cooling down afterward can help prepare your body and bring it back down after the work it's done. Strength-training and ankle-strengthening exercises can also help toughen your muscles and lessen the chances of inflammation or injury. It can be as simple as balance exercises or using a resistance band.

I'd highly recommend having a look at my foot and ankle strengthening page for some ideas.

Another preventive tip is to increase your running distance and speed gradually. I have a page about Increasing Mileage Safely that is important to check out.

I hope this helps you understand what might be going on and guides you on how to proceed. Stay safe, listen to your body, and enjoy your running journey.

Kind regards,

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