An ankle injury is just about the most devastating health issue for runners. It can be a notoriously persistent type of injury, and that’s before you stretch your joints to the limit as a runner. However, if you are a runner and have suffered from an ankle injury, hope is not lost. Below are five suggestions for runners looking to recover from an ankle injury. We also suggest the best ankle brace for running through each stage of recovery.
Focus on the Basics
With any ankle injury, it’s crucial to focus on the basics of the healing process immediately after an injury. This fundamental process follows the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) to help reduce swelling and pain and speed the healing process. While the RICE method is the most effective in the first 24 to 48 hours after an ankle injury, it’s also important to keep it in mind after this period, while also establishing the best route back to health. This will include consulting a doctor and building a plan to get back to running. The best ankle brace for running in the early stages of an ankle is one that keeps the ankle immobile to reduce the possibility of further injury.
Use An Ankle Brace For Running To Restore Range of Motion
This is the first step in a long process for runners, but it is a promising one. Beginning to restore range of motion means the swelling in the injured ankle has subsided and you can stand on your ankle again. Restoring range of motion typically consists of using simple exercises. These may include pointing and flexing your elevated foot to strengthen the ankle and increase flexibility. Choosing the best ankle brace for running at this point in the healing process means choosing one that offers the flexibility needed to complete exercises while also maintaining the high level of protection that is sought immediately after the ankle injury.
Use A Stepping Stone
Although you may feel stronger after a few weeks of range-of-motion exercises, it’s important to not rush back to running right away. Use other activities to develop strength, stability and balance in the injured ankle as well as other parts of your body. This can include upper-body strength training, light, low-body resistance training and and possibly swimming. The key is to go shorter and harder to boost your endorphins and maintain fitness. This will also boost the metabolism and increase circulation without aggravating the ankle. At this stage the best ankle brace for running would be a soft ankle brace or ankle sleeve that acts like a compressive sock to apply pressure to help support the ankle.
Build Up Your Ankle And Send Reinforcements
Once you can bear weight comfortably and you’re at nearly full range of motion, it’s easy to let your guard down and let up on your recovery. Don’t fall into temptation. Invest time in strengthening exercises for your ankles, especially if you like trail running. Isometric exercises are best. As an example, try exercises in which you push against resistance in a fixed range of motion. Progress to isotonic exercises, which use your ankle’s range of motion against a resistance. At this stage in your recovery the best ankle brace for running is a soft ankle wrap (or athletic tape). The key is to use one that gives you a healthy dose of compression but allows for maximum flexibility.
Once your range of motion and strength have returned, add non-impact activities like cycling and swimming and set quantifiable goals. Progress to weight-bearing modes of exercise and walking on predictable surfaces. Finally, sprinkle short running segments into your cross-training workouts. Give yourself plenty of time to regain range of motion and strength in the ankle before you try to run. Keep the running time short at first. Don’t forget to frequently monitor the health of your ankle. In addition, tailor your runs accordingly and maintain a routine of strengthening exercises.