Ankle pain after running has many possible causes. In fact, some causes of ankle pain that occurs after running you’ll probably be surprised at.
Let’s look at several causes of ankle pain after running or jogging, according to Juliet Deane, Elitefts staff member, Elitefts-sponsored figure athlete, personal trainer (NSCA) and co-owner of The Training Studio, NJ.
“Continuing to wear worn-out, unsupportive sneakers,” is one such cause of ankle discomfort that not only can occur after running, but during the exercise. “New sneaks are an investment in your health just like your gym membership or fitness coach,” says Deane. “Taking care of your body means taking care of your feet, so don’t skimp on quality footwear.”
The next cause of ankle discomfort following a training session: “Having tight muscles in your feet: Try using a tennis or lacrosse ball to massage your feet before and after you run; makes a huge difference,” says Deane.
“Stability starts in your foot, and if the muscles are tight and inflexible, your ankles might be the first to feel it, while also putting them at risk for injury. While you run and exercise, your foot grips the floor for stability just like your fingers would if you were walking on your hands. Massaging those muscles will not only bring some relief to your feet and ankles, but also prevent pulls and strains in your ankles and calves.”
Another cause of ankle pain after some running may be simply due to lack of structured motion in the foot. You may think you’re getting plenty of this when jogging all over the place, but jogging or running takes place in a linear path.
Deane recommends “basic ankle mobility warm-ups as simple as circles in both directions. Try 2-3 sets of 20 in each direction, finish on one side and then go to the other and repeat for 1-2 more sets.
"You could also trace the alphabet with your toes in the air. Try two times through each foot and feel free to switch from print to cursive to switch things up.”
When running causes discomfort, this may also signal a past, unresolved injury to the foot, such as an ankle sprain that you thought had resolved.
Sure, everything feels fine when you’re on the job, for instance, but once the feet get pounding on the pavement or treadmill, the hurt sets in from a not fully healed sprained ankle or strained tendon from the past.
“Excessive training such as running long distances without rest, places repeated stress on the foot and ankle. The result can be stress fractures and muscle/tendon strains," says Deane.
“You might be toughing it out, but chronic ankle pain flared up after running might be a sign that you need to go get checked out, and at the very least add some lower impact variety into your training such as high intensity airdyne bike sprints, conditioning ropes and kettlebells.”
If home remedies aren’t doing the trick, make an appointment with a foot doctor (podiatrist), or at least, an orthopedic or sports medicine physician.
Don’t delay if the discomfort in your ankle doesn’t seem to be diminishing once you’ve begun taking corrective measures such as new footwear, arch supports, jogging on softer terrain, stretching, cross-training, etc.