How To Ease Ankle Pain As Soon As It Strikes
Sometimes it happens…
You’re out on a run, enjoying the pace, you finally feel like you’ve got it in you to run a little further than you did last time, then all of a sudden OUCH!
Something in your ankle doesn’t quite feel right…
So you slow down, give it a stretch and give running another attempt, but nope!
Your ankle won’t have it, it’s just too painful…
Well, this is exactly what happened to one of my patients, Leanne, a few weeks ago.
Leanne decided to take up running again because as well as walking her dogs, she wanted to add in something different to keep active.
She started slow, running gently for 15 minutes a time every weekend and finishing off with a slow walk to cool down.
Gradually over the week running felt easier, so she decided to pick up the pace one weekend and run for a few extra minutes up hill until all of a sudden, ping!
Shooting ankle pain came of out nowhere and Leanne hasn’t been able to run since…
In fact her ankle pain has been so bad that she hasn’t been able to get out and run for a whole 6 weeks – which feels like a long time when you’re missing out on doing something you enjoy!
In an ideal runner’s world, (and not just runners, this applied to people who enjoy walking too!), every step of every mile would be 100% pain-free.
No aches, no twinges, no lingering soreness from yesterday’s activity, but the reality is, this is one of the most common problems I see people who enjoy running or walking long distances suffer from.
Here’s the thing, we’re not designed to run and walk up hills for long periods of time, and nor do we need to!
Sure you might work a bit harder by running up a hill, but this is adding huge stress to your ankle and Achilles tendon by doing so.
Of course if you’ve got an event coming up that involves a lot of steep hills, then doing this type of activity would likely help you achieve that goal…
But let me explain why it’s likely to do more harm than good:
Think of your Achilles tendon as an elastic band, when running or walking up hills this elastic band get stretched too far.
The Achilles tendon connects the two major calf muscles to the back of the heel, and under too much stress the tendon tightens and becomes irritated which is why you feel pain each time you do to run, or even walk up the stairs!
This is not an injury to run or walk through.
If you catch a minor strain early, a few days off might be sufficient healing time, but if you keep running as usual, you could develop something more serious that may even take up to 6 months to go away!
So what’s the number one thing to do right away if you’re suffering from this pain right now, or if it strikes?
Complete rest for a few days and lots of ice!
Swap your footwear for soft, comfy shoes, there’s no need to strap your ankle up or wear supports, just apply ice.
I recommend applying ice for 10 minutes each hour if possible.
After 2-3 days I’d begin some deep massage and very gentle stretching and work on the ankle joint to prevent any stiffness or get rid of any swelling.
My top tip: if you’re going to walk or run up hills (because sometimes these can’t be avoided)…
Stand as tall as possible and spend a month before you start running using a balance ball, core and Pilates exercises to make your back and ankle strong so that you can safely do it and avoid this happening to you too!