Six Sinister Running Injuries: What to Do and How to Avoid Them

3. Ankle Sprain

I have one word… OUCH!

We’ve all done it. Hopefully not to the severity of it being a full sprain. But no matter, twisting your ankle on that root or curb is one painfully jolting experience.

Causes

This one’s pretty straight forward, an ankle sprain is usually caused by:

  • accidental trauma, like an uneven surface catching you off guard.

Symptoms

How will you know if something is just twisted or sprained? Well, usually this is fairly simple to figure out, most of the time a twisted ankle will subside rapidly over the course of a few minutes.

A sprain on the other hand, will continue to get worse, and there will be noticeable swelling almost immediately that will continue for several hours.

A twist is ok to walk-off, a sprain is not. So stop, collect yourself, and figure out if it really is a sprain, and if so, figure out a way to get back home safely without further stress to the injured area.

Recovery

So, the good news is, most sprains are relatively minor. However, there are varying degrees of injury. In some severe cases, the ligaments around the ankle can be very damaged, which means you’re not going to be on your feet for a little while.

Recovery time is going to depend greatly on the severity of the sprain.

Either way, you should do nothing but R.I.C.E. when recovering from sprain. Rest it, ice it (often), wear compression socks, and keep that foot elevated.

Also, taking anti-inflammatories will help to alleviate pain and reduce swelling. Follow the directions on the drug label for dosing, and never take consistently for more than 5-7 days at a time.

When can I run again?

This is another one that’s tough to say for sure. Only you can know when your ankle feels strong enough to get back out there.

I recommend doing nothing for at least 3 days, and then gently testing the ankle on day 4 by applying weight to it and see if there is any tenderness. If you feel anything, do not run. You’re not ready.

Wait until you can apply weight, hop, jog pain free before venturing back out.

Prevention

So the bad news is, once you suffer a sprain, often times you’re more susceptible to them.

The good news is, you can take efforts to reduce the chances of having another twisted ankle gone wrong.

Strengthening exercises will be key to avoiding this mishap from happening again. Ankle strengthening exercises with a band are great. As are balancing exercises.

Improving your flexibility will also pay dividends, if you ever misstep on that root again. So take time each day to stretch your ankle by moving your foot in different directions and holding for 10-15 in each position.

If your strain was severe enough and you feel weak in the ankle, wear a brace until the exercises above have helped you to regain, or improve on your ankle strength.

Do not rely on a brace at all times, as this will only result in your ankle becoming dependent on the brace for support and never fully recovering all it’s strength.

Most important for sprained ankle prevention: KEEP YOUR HEAD UP.

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