As an athlete, it may be your first instinct to push through ankle pain to reach your training goals. However, if the cause of your pain is a sprained ankle, continuing to run on your sore ankle can cause further injury. Here are four things runners need to know about ankle sprains.
What causes ankle sprains?
Ankle sprains can occur when your ankle turns or rolls in a way it's not supposed to. This can happen if you run on uneven ground or fall while running and twist your ankle. The force of the twist stretches or tears the ligaments inside your ankle. These ligaments hold your ankle bones together.
Are ankle sprains serious?
There are three different degrees of ankle sprains. Your podiatrist will be able to tell you how serious your ankle sprain is after they examine it.
Grade 1 sprains involve stretching of the ligaments or minimal tears. People with this type of sprain are still able to walk without too much pain. Grade 2 sprains involve larger, but not complete tears. Your ankle may still feel stable if you have this type of sprain, but walking will be painful. Grade 3 sprains are the worst type. These sprains involve a complete tear of your ligament, intense pain, and an inability to put weight on your ankle.
How are ankle sprains treated?
The treatment for ankle sprains varies depending on how serious the sprain is. If you have a Grade 1 sprain, the R.I.C.E. guidelines that all athletes are familiar with may be all you need. Your podiatrist may also splint your ankle. Grade 2 sprains will receive similar treatment, but the healing process may take longer. Grade 3 sprains may be treated with a cast to help your ligaments heal, though surgery may also be required to allow you to run competitively again.
What happens if you keep running?
If you continue to run on your injured ankle, you can make your injury worse. While a sprain isn't as serious as a broken bone, it's still a big deal. Running through the pain can lead to chronic ankle instability, a painful condition that makes your ankle give out when you're running, walking, or even just standing still. Chronic ankle instability has the potential to end your running career for good.
If you injure your ankle on a run, don't try to push through the pain. See your podiatrist right away, and if they tell you to stop running for a while, make sure to listen.
To get professional help with a sprained ankle, contact a podiatrist such as Dr. Russell Newsom.