Ankles Hurt When Running: Causes And Treatments

Ankles Hurt When Running: Causes And Treatments
  • BSX Insight

If you’re experiencing pain in your ankles when running, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from this issue, and there are a few things you can do to help alleviate the pain. With this blog post, BSXInsight will provide a full explanation of why your ankles hurt when running and how to treat and prevent this problem.

What is Runner’s Ankle Pain?

For runners, ankle pain is a typical issue. Your ankles are weighed down and under pressure with each stride you take. This may eventually lead to discomfort and injury.

According to a 2008 study that appeared in the Health and Fitness Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, the typical runner takes 1,700 steps per mile when moving at a pace of 10 minutes per mile (6 miles per hour).

While the number of steps you take every mile will vary depending on other aspects like your height and stride, each mile you run may put around 1,700 pounds of strain on your ankle joints.

The Anatomy of the Ankle

The ankle is made up of two joints: the ankle joint and the subtalar. These joints control the movement of your ankle upwards and downwards, as well as the ability to move it from side to side.

The total number of bones in these joints is also three. This includes the tibia (also known as the shin bone). The bone adjacent to your shin bone or the fibula is the talus.

Your ligaments, tendons, and muscles all work together to support your ankle joint stability and assist with the running motion.

How Does Your Ankle Move While Running?

How Does Your Ankle Move While Running

Your ankle drives you forward while minimizing impact forces. Paul Hobrough, the physiotherapist at Physio and Therapy, says that when your foot touches the ground, your ankle’s dorsiflexion – which is when your toes touch the shin – acts as a shock-deferral device.

The ankle, along with your hips and knees, allows your body to absorb multiple times your body weight. Your ankle then enters the next phase of plantarflexion. This is when your toes move away and forward from your body. It’s enabled by stabilizing muscles and elastic recoil from your Achilles tendon.

Your ankle works with your foot to allow for impact-absorbing pronation (inward rolling of the feet). Hobrough says that a locking mechanism in the tarsal bones of the foot creates stiff feet and ankles for maximum drive forward. This mechanism unlocks and allows the foot to absorb ground force with as little impact as possible.

Ankle Injuries During and After Your Run

Injuries are common in runners. It is estimated that between 65% and 80% will sustain injuries during a 12-month span. This is why taking pain seriously when you feel it during a run is important. It could lead to additional health problems if you don’t allow your muscles, ligaments, or tendons the chance to heal from an issue that has arisen.

Ankle sprains can be very common. This happens when your ankle moves in an abnormal way. Twisting or turning your ankle can cause injury to the ligaments responsible for stabilizing your ankle joint. Ankle sprains are caused by inflammation of the ankle tendons. This is usually due to repetitive usage.

Tendinitis is a condition that causes discomfort in the ankle when you run. Tendinitis is usually caused by repetitive running, which can cause the tendons to become overworked. This is the most common type of tendonitis. It causes pain and swelling due to small tears in the tendon.

Stress fractures are small cracks in your bones that cause stress. This could be caused by running repetitively or excessively.

Also read: Calves Hurt When Running: Causes And How To Treat

Why Do My Ankles Hurt When Running?

Why Do My Ankles Hurt When Running

Are you unsure why your ankles hurt after running? These are just five possible causes.

1. Sprain or Ankle Strain

Running can cause your ankles to hurt most often from strains and sprains. An ankle strain is caused by a tendon or muscle being stretched or torn. An ankle sprain occurs when the ligament is injured. Although there are many causes of ankle pain, most ankle strains and sprains can be traced back to overuse.

No matter what surface you are on, a slight slip or mistake can result in a painfully rolled ankle. Even if your ankle is able to straighten itself, micro-tears to your ligaments and muscles could cause serious injuries.

Pro tip: Get it taken care of immediately.

Although sprains and strains are the most common reason your ankles hurt while running, they are also the easiest to treat. The pain from rolling your ankle is similar to other injuries. It’s easier to treat if the injury is treated quickly. You’ll soon be back on your feet if you treat your injury as soon as you feel it.

2. Ankle Stress Fracture

When your muscles are unable to absorb repeated impact shocks, a stress fracture can occur. Instead, tiny cracks develop in your bone(s), which eventually crack under stress. It’s not fun!

Dr. Brad Whitley, PT, DPT, describes “shin splints” as the simplest form of a stress fracture. It is an irritation of the bone’s outer lining. If someone experiences shin splints, it is usually the first sign of a bone stress Injury (BSI).

Stress fractures can cause severe pain and may require a cast to keep you from running for several weeks. You should consult a doctor if you experience severe bruising, tenderness, pain, or are unable to run without pain in your ankle. Stop running. It takes approximately six weeks for this injury to heal. So, get checked out as soon as possible.

3. Ankle Tendonitis

Tendinitis is an inflammation of a tendon that causes it to swell, fray, tear or swell. Tendinitis can occur in the foot area and cause pain while running.

Tibialis anterior tendonitis (or tibialis tendonitis): This tendon runs along the front of the shin bone (the “tibia”) and inserts at your ankle. This is the most common reason for ankle pain when you run. You may also experience shin splints if you have trouble with the anterior tendon of your tibialis.

Achilles tendonitis is a condition where the Achilles tendon (which are common overuse injury for runners) connects to the calf muscles and the back of your heel bone (called “calcaneus”). Your Achilles may be inflamed if you feel an ankle ache on the heel of your foot.

Posterior tendonitis (or posterior tibial tendonitis): This tendon connects your posterior tibial muscles at the back of the shin to your inside foot. You might experience swelling, warmth, redness, or pain in your ankles when it is irritated. This condition can also cause swelling and inflammation that may lead to a worsening of the problem.

Peroneal tendonitis – If you feel pain in your outer ankle when running, this could be due to a swollen tendon. This connects your lower leg bone (the Fibula) and the bony lump at your ankle (the lateral malleolus).

No matter what type of ankle tendinitis you have, there are many common causes. You may feel the symptoms of ankle tendonitis first thing in the morning, or you might experience severe pain after a run.

4. Ankle Arthritis

Although you may think of arthritis as affecting older athletes, chronic pain can also affect runners. Three types of foot arthritis can cause pain in your ankles when you run: osteoarthritis (rheumatoid), post-traumatic arthritis, and rheumatoid. Each case results in damage or weakening of the joints, which causes stiffness and lack of mobility.

Arthritis doesn’t just affect hardcore runners. It also doesn’t discriminate against experienced athletes. Keep track of any symptoms you notice so you can intervene before they become worse.

5. Ankle Instability and Biomechanics

Sometimes your ankles may be weak. Ankle instability can cause your body’s natural biomechanics to “give out” when weight is added to it. This can lead to chronic pain and injury while running.

Overpronation can cause wobbly and weak ankles. This is because your foot’s supporting ligaments are being stretched with too much motion. Overpronation can cause your foot to roll inwards and unevenly absorb the shock of impact. Whitley shares that shock absorption requires some pronation but not too fast.

If left untreated, this type of injury can cause chronic pain and spread up and down your legs and feet. To keep your wobbly feet in check, you might consider motion control shoes or stability running shoes.

Improper running shoes may cause a sore ankle after or during a run. It is a good idea to have your shoes fitted by professionals to make sure you have the right footwear for your foot type, injury, or activity. You can also do exercises for your ankles, which are an important and often overlooked part of your body.


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How Can I Relieve My Ankle Pain?

How Can I Relieve My Ankle Pain

Okay, this is the section you have been waiting for.

Your discomfort may be preventable if you have sore feet or ankles from running. Here are some ways you can get your running back on track.

RICE: Every athlete should be familiar with the well-known Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (RICE) recovery strategy. This is especially useful for treating running pain caused by sprained ankles. Place your ankle on the table and rest the joint. Next, apply 15-20 minutes of ice to the ankle. Compress the ankle to reduce swelling and inflammation. Finally, elevate the injured ankle above your heart for optimal blood flow.

NSAIDs: These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are excellent for relieving ankle aches from running. These drugs should not be taken on a regular basis. To make these most effective, take them as soon as you can after an injury.

Braces: A brace, supportive wrap, or protective boot can help relieve chronic ankle instability and pain from stress fractures. It limits your foot’s motion.

Physical therapy: Exercises like ankle circles, calf raises, and resistance band work can help strengthen your feet and prevent you from running with sore ankles. If your ankle bone is in sharp pain, you should wait 48 to 72 hours before stretching and strengthening. To warm the tendons and muscles, apply a heating pad before you begin.

Steroid injections: To treat ankle injuries, you will need to see a doctor. This strong anti-inflammatory medicine can cause scar tissue. It can be very effective in treating tendonitis and ankle pain caused by arthritis when used as a single treatment method.


When you run, your ankles are responsible for bearing a lot of your weight. This can lead to pain and discomfort if they’re not strong enough. To prevent ankle pain when running, make sure to follow the ways that we pointed out below.

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