Written By Cara Hammond, PT, DPT, CEO
Most long distance runners will experience symptoms of overuse, or ankle tendinitis during their running career. These symptoms often feel like a pinch inside the ankle or a pocket of swelling around the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle. Many runner’s experience worse pain shortly after a run.
There are several things you can do to avoid these symptoms and pains. Decreasing mileage on your running shoes is one way to decrease symptoms and pain. Warming up, cooling down, stretching and getting massages are also helpful in reducing symptoms of overuse. But is that enough? Probably not if you want to have a long-term relationship with running.
Getting to the root cause of the mechanism of the injury is very important. It is appropriate to have a trained Physical Therapist assess your running mechanics, ankle and foot joint mobility, leg and core strength, running shoes and running routine. Your Physical Therapist will be able to identify the cause of your injury and prescribe a rehabilitation protocol for quick recovery. One of the key factors for runners to stay injury-free is to add some strength training to your exercise regimen. Hitting the gym for heavy lifting several times a week is NOT necessary though. There are many body-weight strength training exercises that can be done at home to improve muscle balance and running mechanics. This will not only decrease your risk of injury but also improve your running speed and endurance.
Ankle pain is not the only the thing that keeps runner’s from racking up mileage. Some of the most common injuries that runner’s experience include: Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, stress fractures, iliotibial band syndrome, runner’s knee, muscle strains and hamstring pain. One injury can quickly lead to another when not properly diagnosed and treated. Most running injuries will not heal themselves. Seek help from a professional and get back on the path to pain free running.