Why does my ankle hurt when I run?


If your ankles hurt while you’re running, it’s important to find the source of the pain as soon as you can. Running for prolonged periods with irritation, whether on the surface or interior of your ankle, can have a lasting impact on your health and running practice. While many ankle pains are not serious, any lasting pain may indicate a serious underlying health issue.

Ankle pain can be irritating during a run, but with the right treatment and daily practices, you can conquer your pain and get back to being active without any holdups. Repeated strain on your ankles from pain while running can cause sprains, tears, fractures, or chronic problems. Understanding your pain and getting the right treatment is one of the first steps toward getting and feeling better. Below we’ll give a few reasons why you may be having ankle pain and suggest where you can go to get it checked and take care of your needs.

Ankle Strain or a Sprain

If you’re having ankle pains, it could be due to a strain or sprain on the muscles in your ankle. An ankle strain is when a muscle or tendon is overstretched during prolonged activity. An ankle sprain is when a ligament in your ankle is torn or strained during strenuous activity.

When you have a strain or sprain, the cause is either prolonged exercise without stretching, too much exercise, or an unexpected single traumatic injury. Traumatic injuries can include things like over-extending your ankle, placing too much weight on your foot, or running for too long of a time.

A Stress Fracture

Stress fractures are small breaks in the bones of the body caused by excessive stress caused by weight or repeated weight. They form when the muscles can no longer absorb repeated impact and must transfer some of that impact to the bones, causing a tiny fracture. Ways that you can determine the difference between a fracture and a strain or sprain is by the intensity and location of the pain. A strain or sprain may originate from the muscle, while a stress fracture is an isolated pain in the ankle bones.

Ankle Tendonitis

Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon that causes it to swell, tear, or even fray. Unlike a strain or sprain, ankle tendonitis almost always involves swelling in the ankle or foot region. Severe strains and sprains can also be accompanied by swelling, which is why it’s important to consult a doctor if you think you have any of these injuries.

Tendonitis is caused by excessive use, high running mileage, improper running form, or even just wearing the wrong kind of running shoes. If you feel pain while running and suspect you may have tendonitis in your ankles, consider lowering your running regimen and ensure that your shoes fit you properly before consulting an orthopedic doctor if the pain doesn’t stop.

Ankle Arthritis

Arthritis is chronic pain that occurs due to inflammation of the joints. It can happen to anyone at any age, regardless of how little or how much you run. Arthritis can be hereditary or develop as you get older. While chronic, many forms of arthritis, even in the ankles, can be treated with medication or orthopedic surgery.

Ankle Instability

Ankle instability is a term used to describe general weakness in your ankle muscles. If you have weak ankle muscles, they may not properly support your feet and the bones in your ankles, causing strain and pain. Weak ankles can also cause bad running form and overpronation, leading to the straining of your bones and the ligaments in your feet and ankles. If you suspect that you have weak ankles, visiting an orthopedic doctor can help you get the physical therapy you need to make your ankles stronger and more reliable when running.

Ankle Bursitis

Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa, the fluid that exists between your bone and ligaments in your ankle. Your ankle bursitis is located just between your Achilles tendon and ankle bone. Some symptoms of ankle bursitis that differ from other swelling injuries include redness and warmth around the area. Some causes of ankle bursitis include improper running shoes, over-training, muscular imbalance, and poor running form.

Sinus Tarsi Syndrome

Sinus tarsi syndrome is when the soft tissue around the ankle joint experiences inflammation for a prolonged or chronic period. You can distinguish between a strain or other swelling ankle injuries and sinus tarsi syndrome by some of the following symptoms:

  • Bruised skin.
  • Tenderness.
  • Difficulty running and walking.

Sinus tarsi syndrome can develop after untreated sprains, strains, or multiple strains in a short period. An orthopedic doctor can treat sinus tarsi using medication or orthopedic surgery.

How Can I Relieve My Ankle Pain?

There are a few ways to relieve your ankle pain and regain comfort while running. If you’re suffering from frequent pains while running, there are some strategies you can take toward getting better as quickly as possible, including:

  • Using the RICE method: RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. For light injuries such as sprains, you can use the RICE method to combat swelling and encourage recovery.
  • Wearing a brace: While a brace may not solve all pain problems in your ankle, it can help prevent further injury and reduce swelling until you find a treatment option or receive a diagnosis for your pain.
  • Seeing an orthopedic professional: An orthopedic professional can help you determine a diagnosis and some treatment to help you get back up and running again. Since many ankle injuries share some of the same symptoms, a specialist can help you properly understand your condition so that you can get proper treatment right away.

Considering getting your ankle pain checked? You can trust the Orthopedic Specialists of North Texas to find and treat your issue with our professional staff. Our diagnostic processes are done by professionals who specialize in specific body parts, including the ankles. Whether you need physical therapy or surgery done, consider getting in touch with us for an appointment.