Overuse injuries happen more often than you might think. Perhaps you’ve experienced one yourself when you started training for your first marathon or got serious about fitness. Injuries to your ankles from overuse can feel a lot like a sprain, but the causes are different.
Don’t let overuse injuries sideline your workouts. The doctors at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine in Kirkland, Washington, are here to tell you how to avoid overuse injuries in your ankles and what you can do if you get one.
The most common causes
Overuse injuries can happen to anyone. Similar to stress fractures and Achilles tendonitis, they usually occur after periods of intense activity. When this activity is repeated, the problem usually gets worse. The tendons and bones related to your ankles and feet are especially prone to injury, especially after repeatedly doing too much.
The most common causes of overuse injuries include the following:
- Beginning a new athletic season if you’ve been inactive over the winter
- Training for a marathon when you’re not used to running
- Trying to go for more miles on the treadmill than usual
Kids can also develop overuse injuries. Kids ages 10-14 who are active in sports may experience pain due to the placement of the growth plate and the Achilles tendon. In kids, this condition is called Sever’s disease, and it’s most common among those who play soccer, run track, or do gymnastics.
Symptoms of overuse injuries
The first and most obvious sign that you have an overuse injury is a pain in your ankles. Other symptoms are also often present, including the following:
- Swelling in your ankle
- Redness or warmth localized to your ankle
- Limited ability to move your ankle
- Intense pain when you try to walk
One or both ankles can be affected.
Preventing overuse injuries
Many overuse injuries can be prevented. You can help prevent them by doing the following:
- Stretch your feet, ankles, and hamstrings before and after athletic activity
- Ease into a new routine, especially if you’ve been less active for a while
- Make sure you have the right footwear and correct arch support for your feet
- Consider what you’re running on ― concrete, grass, hills, flat land ― and adjust accordingly.
- Stop if either ankle begins to hurt
When you return to athletic activity, take it easy. Don’t try to go for extra miles or be the star player in the game. With appropriate rest and activity levels, you can always build up to more intensity later.
Treating overuse injuries
Treatment usually begins with the most conservative treatments first. Try the RICE method, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Doing these four things can help relieve many instances of ankle pain. Ice, in particular, is known to be helpful for sore ankles. You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®), as directed.
Physical therapy may also help, especially if you get overuse injuries on a repeated basis. If you have foot pain that doesn’t go away, make an appointment with Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine for an evaluation. We’ll give you a thorough exam and develop a treatment plan to get you healthy again. We can examine everything from your shoes to your gait to identify possible contributing factors.
To learn more about preventing overuse injuries or to get treatment if you have one, book an appointment online or over the phone with Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine today.