What Is Runner's Ankle?

If you’ve hurt your ankle running, you know that running-related injuries can be painful. But what is runner’s ankle, and how can you treat it? Learn more about protecting your ankles while on the track or trail.

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What Is Runner’s Ankle?

This condition describes an injury in your ankle that results from running, especially on hard surfaces. The National Institutes of Health name two common causes of the condition: Achilles tendinopathy and ankle sprains.

Your Achilles tendon is a cord of tissue that runs along the back of your ankle. An injury to the tendon, or Achilles tendinopathy, can cause pain in your ankle and is often the result of chronic overuse. Chronic overuse can result from a number of activities, including running.

While a tendon injury often occurs over time, an ankle sprain typically happens suddenly. An ankle is sprained when the ligaments that support the ankle stretch farther than they’re supposed to and, in some cases, tear. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons notes that ankle sprains are likely to happen if you suddenly roll or twist your ankle during physical activity.

Other running-related ankle injuries include a broken ankle or stress fracture in the ankle. Stress fractures are tiny cracks or severe bruising in a bone that typically happen after repeated activity or overuse.

Risk Factors for Runner’s Ankle

A study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the following risk factors could increase your chances of a running-related injury:

  • Having a history of previous injuries
  • Inexperience
  • Inefficient running gait
  • Advanced age
  • Running 30-40 miles or more per week

The running assessment at UPMC Sports Medicine can help you understand why you may be getting injured while running and help you prevent injury moving forward. Visit our running assessment page to learn more.

Runner’s Ankle Treatment

If you’ve injured your ankle while running, you may need to see a doctor who can recommend the right runner’s ankle treatment for you. You might be able to treat your ankle at home with rest and ice, especially if you do not have persistent pain and can move your ankle. But if you have a severe injury with ongoing pain, swelling, or immobility, the injured ankle will likely need additional treatment.

The orthopaedic experts at the UPMC Foot and Ankle Center can assess your ankle to diagnose your condition and determine the best treatment. Solutions may include physical therapy, pain management, or, in severe cases, surgery.

After treatment, your doctor may recommend additional rehabilitation or a conditioning program to get you back to running.

To learn more about the services and experts at UPMC Sports Medicine or to schedule an appointment, call 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Foot and Ankle Injuries in Runners. National Institutes of Health. Injuries in Runners; A Systematic Review on Risk Factors and Sex Differences. National Institutes of Health. Achilles tendon injuries. National Institutes of Health. Stress Fractures of the Foot and Ankle. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Ankle sprains: What's Normal and What's Not?. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

About Sports Medicine

An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.