Treating Ankle Pain

Captured at Brett Darrington on 15 Aug, 2022 by California photographer Cecily Breeding.

Dear Doctor Brett:
I am soaking my painful, swollen and discolored ankle for the LAST time! I have chronically unstable ankles that I rolled again and I have all but given up on trail running. My trail shoes were selected by “experts” 200 miles ago and I wear custom orthotics. Please, what else can I do to prevent the simplest uneven surface from “trashing” my ankles.” Cold Feet in Kansas.

Dear Cold Feet::
I’ll bet you have a long history of ankle sprains/strains in your medical/training record? The most common type is caused when momentary instability causes your foot to roll inward beyond its normal range. This results in stretching or tearing of the ankle ligaments, and sometimes fracture. Yours is a very painful and debilitating injury, that if un-rehabilitated can result in chronic ankle instability. Stay off of the uneven surfaces for a while.

I cannot state how important it is to have a good sports therapist rehabilitate your ankles properly. You should get a handful of take-home exercises to continue indefinitely. With increased strength and balance sense in your feet and ankles you will gain cat-like balance and your ankles will be bullet-proof. Each year I lecture numerous cross country and track teams on injury prevention.

Ankle strengthening/proprioception drills keep the runners out of my office for good. Never use braces or taping longer than necessary and redouble your home strengthening/balance training. You will not even recognize your new feline instincts.

Good Luck!