For our next entry in our series on running injuries we have picked a problem that while it certainly does affect runners is also quite common for non-runners as well, ankle sprains. Over 3 million Americans are affected by ankle sprains annually, and most sadly don’t seek professional medical care for the condition.
Ankle sprains are a soft tissue injury that frequently occurs due to a misstep and a twisting of the ankle joint. They can usually be self diagnosed with little doubt. If you experience a sharp pain when the ankle bends in an abnormal fashion and it is followed by redness and swelling then there’s a good bet you’ve experienced an ankle sprain.
Great first aid for ankle sprains is as simple as remembering the anagram R.I.C.E., which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Rest is very important, you don’t want to make the injury worse, so get off your feet and rest the ankle joint. Apply ice intermittently throughout the day helps control inflammation, for no more than 20 minutes at a time. Compression is good for both controlling inflammation as well as giving the ankle some additional support. Elevating the ankle to the level of the heart or above is recommended as well.
There is unfortunately no fast track to healing a sprained ankle. Healing can take anywhere from two to six weeks depending on how severe the injury is. For runners this can seem like a very long time to get back to running. Instead, try core strengthening exercises and swimming to reduce stress on the ankle.
If the above steps to dot lead to a reduction in pain or swelling then it may be a sign of a more serious injury. See a podiatrist for a more in depth diagnosis, the sprain may be actually be a stress fracture or a painful tendon tear, both of which will require professional medical attention.