Numb/Sore Ankles

by Beth

I am in my mid 40's and returning to running after a break due to injury and life. My feet were becoming numb so I loosened my laces—problem solved. But now lately my ankles are the issue. They feel almost numb but at the same time sore. It's weird. I haven’t twisted them. I have new shoes. I have been fitted for them at a running store. They feel slightly better if I let my feet almost waggle at the back of my stride.

Anybody have any solutions? It's really holding back my progress and frankly making running really hard.

Nicole's reply:

Hi Beth, thanks for your question and well done for getting back into running but sorry to hear your ankles are bothering you.

The cause of ankle issues amongst runners can be numerous. I am not a physio so it is difficult for me to pinpoint what your issue may be but I'll discuss a few possible causes though and then maybe something will resonate with you.

I don't know how much running you currently do but did you start back running too much too quickly or perhaps too fast? Your comeback should be slow and methodical and you should always listen to your body. Here are some getting back into running tips.

I know that you had your shoes fitted at a store which is good. Did you make sure to go up at least half a size from your every-day shoes with enough wiggle room for your toes?. Our feet can swell as we run, which can put pressure on our toes and ankles. Your laces might also be done too high up your ankle. You don’t need to tie them up to the last hole unless you need to secure your foot more. Also consider a different lacing technique.

You may lack ankle stability. I don't know if you have supportive running shoes but you could also look at doing ankle and foot strengthening exercises. In fact we should all be doing strength training (I know it is not my favorite!), especially as we get older.

If you are over striding where your front leg is overextended in front of your body, this can cause you to heel strike when you land, rather than midfoot strike. Try running with shorter steps and with a faster cadence and see if that makes a difference.

Look at and feel your body posture when you run. A while back I was shocked when I saw my reflection in a shop window and saw how hunched I was. Not only is it inefficient but it causes problems with gait which can lead to other injuries. What’s your running posture

Problems with our back can manifest themselves all the way down to our feet. It can also affect our gait which can translate to foot pain.

Numb ankles can be related to a pinched nerve in the foot or tarsal tunnel syndrome. The tarsal tunnel is located on the inner side of your ankle and through it runs the tibial nerve, an artery and a vein. If the tunnel gets compressed it can squeeze on the nerve and blood vessels causing pain or numbness.

Ankle tendonitis can be very common amongst runners with Achilles tendonitis being one of the most common running injuries. It is often caused by over training. What is Achilles Tendonitis and how to treat it.

Ankle bursitis could be a possible cause. Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa which is a fluid filled sack located between the bone and a ligament. They are there to lubricate the bones as they move. There is a bursa located between your Achilles tendon and your heel bone and if it becomes inflamed it can cause pressure and pain.

In all honesty if you have been injured in the past, the last thing you want now is to get another injury. I would get an assessment from a physiotherapist or other running/foot specialist just to make sure that you don't have an injury and they can probably make suggestions on how to sort out your ankle issues.

I hope that helps and best of luck on your running journey!

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