When resuming running after a break, one common concern is the risk of an ankle sprain. Ankle sprains often occur when the foot is misaligned during movement, resulting in pain. However, underestimating this injury is essential, as proper treatment can lead to ankle osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition affecting the cartilage. An ankle and foot orthopedics specialist provided insights on this issue.
Before Starting Running
Understanding terms like pronation, supination, flexion, and extension is crucial for novice runners. Understanding foot support, pronation, supination, and the angle of ankle extension and flexion during running are critical factors for performance and injury prevention. Selecting appropriate footwear based on your foot’s support type and engaging in specific proprioceptive exercises can help your ankle withstand the sprain strain. These exercises benefit all runners, especially those prone to ankle sprains. Preparing your muscles with strengthening exercises to support your foot and maintain balance during the stride is crucial. Never skip leg muscle stretching exercises after each run, regardless of the distance.
Dealing with an Ankle Sprain
In the event of an ankle sprain during running, it is crucial to follow the RICE protocol:
- Rest: Cease the activity immediately. Take a break from running if you notice swelling, significant bruising, or severe pain.
- Ice: Apply ice to the ankle as soon as possible.
- Compression: A moderately tight bandage can provide support to the injured ankle.
- Elevation: Elevate the injured leg to reduce swelling. A pillow or chair can be used for support.
It is noted that, in most cases, ankle sprains resolve on their own. However, before resuming running, it is essential to wait for the worst pain to subside, avoid putting weight on the ankle for a few days, and never skip post-running stretching exercises. In rare instances, X-rays may reveal microfractures, even if the injury didn’t initially seem severe.
Sprain Arthrosis: Treatment and Returning to Sports
If pain persists, if walking remains painful, or if your foot support isn’t stable, it’s advisable to consult an orthopedic specialist specializing in foot-ankle injuries to assess the condition. Only X-rays can detect potential microfractures in the ankle joint. Continuing to stress the ankle after a sprain, even just through walking, can lead to the development of ankle arthrosis. In the past, arthrosis was treated with ankle fusion, eliminating pain but restricting ankle mobility. Today, if clinical conditions are met, an alternative surgical technique allows correction, realignment, and regeneration of ankle tissues in a single procedure. This technique combines the regenerative properties of our body’s cells with collagen membranes to rebuild tissue resembling native cartilage, providing lasting results. In many cases, this surgery allows a return to sports.
This comprehensive approach to ankle sprains and their potential consequences ensures the best possible outcome for runners.