You've committed to and stuck with a treadmill running program, but now your ankle hurts. Don't throw in the towel just yet. While you might need to take a few days off, the problem likely won't keep you from running for good. Treadmills are convenient for many busy women, but they do carry their own set of risks. Proper preparation and use dramatically reduce your risk of ankle pain. In the meantime, contact your doctor if treatment doesn't help or the pain gets worse.
In many cases, ankle pain may be due to spending too much time on the treadmill. Repeated running for extended amounts of time puts stress on your ankles and may lead to overuse injuries. If you've had a past injury to your ankle, treadmill running may exacerbate it, according to Nicholas Sol, DPM, CPed. Shoes without enough support may result in a sprain or strain to your ankle. The ankle doesn't carry much muscle so the chance of your pain being a result of muscle soreness is slim.
Tying on a pair of supportive shoes before hopping on the treadmill is an ideal way to lower your risk of post-workout pain in your ankles. Look for a pair designed as a running shoe and replace as directed by the manufacturer. This is usually after a set number of miles run in the shoes. Stretch your ankles before running on the treadmill, which increases blood flow to the area, reducing the risk of strains and sprains. Ankle rotations and calf raises are good options. To prevent overuse injuries, alternate your treadmill running sessions with other types of exercise. This challenges your muscles in different ways and keeps your ankles from being stressed by the same workout day after day.
Despite your best intentions, you might still have ankle pain after a treadmill session. Take it easy for a day or two and rest your ankle. Continuing to run on an injured ankle may make the problem worse and require more extensive treatment. Over-the-counter pain medications are effective for discomfort. Apply an ice pack to your ankle for 20 minutes at a time, several times per day, and wear a compression bandage when walking to stabilize your ankle and prevent further damage. As you return to the treadmill, start slowly and monitor your pain. If it returns, stop running.
When to Call a Doctor
In many cases, home treatment is appropriate for ankle pain. However, a severe injury should be seen by a doctor. If your ankle swells or appears bruised, you may have a sprain that requires treatment by a doctor. If you suspect a bone fracture or break, seek medical help right away. If you suffer ankle pain after running on a treadmill and have had a previous injury or surgery to the area, stop and talk to your doctor.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.