alsoran runners Ankle Injuries

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Ankle injuries happen from time to time and can keep you off the road if you are not careful.  From my own experience the most common ankle injury is “going over” on the ankle.  This can happen when stepping into a “pot hole” or even something as simple as stepping onto an uneven surface.  These situations occur mostly when I am tired and therefore not concentrating on what I am doing.

I’m sure many of you can relate to my story. 

On one occasion I was at the top of Black Hill on my own when I went over on my ankle.  The pain was instant (as in taking my breath away).  As it happened I immediately tried to stop going forward and came to a halt on my “good foot”.  For about a minute I couldn’t put my injured foot on the ground.

Unfortunately I did not have my cell phone with me so couldn’t “phone a friend” to come to my rescue!  Irresponsible on my part!  As I was stuck on top of the hill I realised that I would somehow have to make my way back down and get myself home.  I gently tried to put my foot back on the ground and see if I could apply any pressure to it.  Although it was very sore I was able to apply some pressure and after a couple of minutes I was able to walk.  This was in all likelihood because I was still “warm” from my run.  After a few more minutes I was actually able to run slowly and so able to make my way home.

Once at home I immediately iced my foot/ankle for about 20 minutes, I then strapped it and kept it elevated for the rest of the evening.  The next morning I gate-crashed my physio and got her to have a look at my ankle.  After examination it was determined that I had torn ligaments in my foot.  My physio explained that currently my ankle only had about 25% ligament support.  In other words, 75% of the ligament supporting the ankle had been torn.  So although I could still walk/run, there was quite a big risk that should I go over on my ankle in this current state, that I would tear the remaining 25% of the ligament and in the process dislocate the ankle.  She treated the injury with some ultrasound and gentle massage and then restrapped my ankle for support.  She also issued me with a pair of crutches which she insisted I use for the next 48 hours.  The good news was that I only needed to rest for a couple of days and then I could get back to running, albeit short, easy stuff.

So – what to do when you go over on an ankle?
  • Stop and give yourself a couple of minutes to catch your breath!
  • Try applying pressure to your injured foot by placing it on the ground.
  • If you can apply pressure albeit “painful”, then the chances are that you have probably damaged the ligaments as opposed to fracturing or breaking a bone.  According to my physio, you will not be able to apply any pressure to the foot if the bone is fractured/broken!
  • Apply ice as soon as possible
  • Strap the ankle for support
  • Elevate the ankle
  • DO NOT hobble, if you are going to walk, it is important to walk properly.  Hobbling causes more damage!
  • Depending on the severity of the injury, go and see your doctor or physio and get treatment if possible
  • Use CRUTCHES if instructed to do so (it may seem dramatic but I promise it will speed up your recovery!)
  • DON”T take anti-inflammatory tablets for the first 48 hours!  They thin the blood and initially you want as much blood going to the injured site as possible to speed up the healing process.  You can take something mild for pain (ie. paracetamol).
  • Rather rest for a few days and give it some time to heal.  Remember the most important thing is that you are healthy and injury free on the start line of Comrades!

Key words: ankle injury, ligaments,
Internal links: Physio,
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website

Copyright Nikki Campbell 2010