How Runners Can Combat Foot & Ankle Pain


Running is a fantastic exercise for getting in shape and staying in shape. Many of us have had the experience of seeing somebody at a wedding or event who used to be overweight but is now looks fantastic due to becoming an avid runner. And for those looking to keep cardiovascularly fit, all it takes is a quick morning jog to get the blood flowing.

For some people, running is a way of life. A healthy body is a happy body, and running is a great way to keep the body happy and healthy.

common causes of foot & ankle pain in runners


Now let's talk about the downside of running. It's not a mystery why avid runners sometimes have to deal with leg, knee, foot or ankle pain. But I'll list some of the factors here anyway:

1. Over-running can lead to foot & ankle pain

If you run every day, the ligaments in your feet and ankles don't have much time to recover. As you add frequency and distance to your running routine, it becomes even more of a factor.

The many ligaments and tendons in and around the ankle, when exposed to increased use and pressure, may become sore and painful.

2. Poor running Footwear can lead to foot & ankle pain

Some people seem to think that running in anything resembling a sneaker is fine. But running in old, ill-fitting, or cheaply-designed footwear can also lead to ankle pain.

Even though many of use wear similar "sized" shoes, we still have completely different feet. Wearing shoes that don't fit correctly, especially for a long period of time, can cause problems.

3. Poor running technique can lead to foot & ankle pain

Bad technique can also be a problem. According to "Runners World", using and maintaining the following form can help you avoid pain while running:

  • Maintain a short, quick stride. 

  • Keep your knee in line. 

  • Push up and off. Focus on pushing up and off the ground behind you.

  • Watch your elbows. Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees or less.

  • Relax your hands. Keep hands loose and below your chest. 

  • Work your core. A strong core makes it easier to stay upright—even when you’re tired—and avoid leaning too far forward from your hip, which can lead to injury.

what to do if you have foot and ankle pain

If you're dealing with any of the issues from above, resulting in an increase in foot and ankle pain, try the following.

1. Get new shoes


Treat yourself to a new pair of running kicks. I recommend going old-fashioned-skip the online retailers and buy from a physical store that specializes in running or at the very least can measure your foot to ensure a proper fit.

And, while you are at it, consider getting a custom footbed if you are an everyday runner. Custom footbeds provide an even more specialized fit, ensuring that you won't slide around in your shoe. Less sliding, less chances for pain, soreness, and even small annoyances like blisters and hot spots.

 Your feet with thank you for it.

2. Ice when needed


Icing your sore foot and ankles after a run will ease the swelling and keep the pain down. It's a quick fix, but there's a reason that professional athletes use ice to ease their aching joints after the big game- it works.

So keep an icepack in your freezer, and when your feet and ankles get sore after a run, hit em' with the cold. 

3. rest your feet


Sometimes, the best way to deal with any kind of pain is to give the body part in question a rest. How much? Depends on what you are dealing with. If you are a runner having chronic pain, it may be as simple as adjusting your technique, finding footwear that is more supportive, or just dialing it back a little.

If you make adjustments and are still having pain, it's time to get off your feet and let them heal a little bit. Taking a few days off should have no impact upon your overall fitness if you lead a healthy lifestyle. 

And taking a break from running doesn't mean that you have to give up exercise completely. Tweak your workout a little and implement some swimming or stationary biking into the program.

Then, when your feet have had enough of a break, re-introduce running into your regimen. If you return and the pain comes back, consider consulting an orthopaedic foot & ankle specialist-- we'll be able to give you specific answers to help you get back onto the track.

Have fun!

Dr. Elton

Dr. JP Elton