Trail Running and Ankle Pain

At TFC Podiatry in Yarraville, most runners who attend our clinic who need help with running-related injuries and ankle pain are those who run on pavement, roads, or footpaths. Although runners of Yarraville enjoy the local running routes and running paths, at TFC Podiatry we still see a number of trail runners.

As our focus is currently on ankle pain associated with running, it would be a shame to pass up the opportunity to discuss trail running and ankle pain.

When we talk about ankle pain in the context of trail running, the conversation changes.

Trail running is slightly more complex than running on flat, hard surfaces. It’s more complex in that there are more factors to consider when thinking about trail running and ankle pain. For example, it is more common to have sudden injuries to the ankle joint during trail running. The naturally more unstable rocky surface seen in trail running creates a higher chance of ankle sprains or falls.

The ankle is a particularly unstable joint that is particularly injury-prone when it rolls outwards. We call this injury an inversion ankle sprain and it is a very common injury that we see at TFC Podiatry. Sports that involve a lot of side to side movements such as basketball, AFL, or netball, often lead to inversion ankle sprains and similar injuries. Because of the instability and unpredictability of trail surfaces, there is a similar risk of ankle injuries with trail running.

Some peoples are far more likely to sprain than others.

The biggest risk factor for ankle sprains is a previous ankle sprain.

When you have an ankle sprain, you can damage the structures that support the outside of your ankle. This leads to further ankle sprains and can be a vicious cycle if not rehabilitated promptly.

The pain associated with ankle sprains can be classified in 2 areas:

  • Acute ankle sprain: often caused by a recent sprain, often exhibited with an instance of ankle pain.
  • Chronic ankle sprain: previous ankle sprain that hasn’t settled or has flared up again, where ankle pain is not unfamiliar.

These 2 categories of ankle pain have very different treatment pathways. It is therefore, a very important first step in assessing your ankle sprain.

Trail running shoes are also slightly different, with stronger gripped soles on soft surfaces and often more added protection to the ankle. Trail running demands specific shoes in order to lower the chance of injury and ankle pain.

We treat ankle instability by identifying the root cause of your ankle pain, and whether you are more susceptible to ankle sprains. After these factors are identified, we work on improving these areas, which include: proprioception, strength, foot posture, or flexibility.

Getting you back on your feet after an ankle sprain is an important part of your treatment plan.

The best chance of recovery is through accurate and thorough assessment by a Podiatrist. We can help ensure your trail running career is life long!