Can I Run A Marathon With An Ankle Injury?

strengthen-feet-and-ankle-muscles-artA few months ago I was sitting on my living room floor and when I got ready to stand up, my ankle felt like it was kind of locked in place or that it needed to pop. Once I stood up I had sharp pains inside the center of my ankle and I couldn’t walk. I was so frustrated and didn’t know what to do! I assumed it must be a running injury like tendonitis, a sprain or maybe a stress fracture. So, I immediately hobbled over to the kitchen to get an ice pack and spent the rest of the day on the couch with it elevated. Well, that didn’t really help much and I was still not able to walk. The weird thing was that it happened so sudden, there was no swelling and it had never bothered me before during running. I was even starting the peak of my marathon training and doing long runs of about 17-20 miles and not once had it bothered me during a run or workout. Later that same day, I went into my kitchen and squat down to get something out of a lower cabinet and when I stood back up my pain was gone and I could walk again! So, I figured it must have just needed to pop or something (although I never felt or heard a “pop” sound). I was so happy that I was pain free. But, then later that night I twisted it slightly and BAM – again…I was in excruciating pain. It stayed like that again for another day and then it mysteriously disappears. I was really worried that it was a running injury, so later that week I made an appointment with a sports doctor and had it x-rayed  He said that nothing was broken or fractured, I didn’t have tendinitis or any problems with my ligaments or bones. He said that I must have a lose piece of bone (or tissue) that is floating around and trapped within my ankle and when it gets in a certain position – it hits a nerve and hurts like hell. He said not to worry about it unless it started causing me routine pain and then the only option was surgery to remove it. I was actually relieved and glad I could still run the marathon! After that – I didn’t have any pain (only a little stiffness) in that ankle for about 3 months. That is until I ran the Houston Marathon last month. Unfortunately, about halfway through the run my ankle started to get really stiff and I felt a slight pinch (nothing like the pain before though). So, I ended up having to go much slower than normal but was able to finish. It hasn’t bothered me since and I’m able to do my normal workouts.

I just wanted to share this with you guys because I know many of you deal with injuries and pain doesn’t always mean you have to stop running or that you injured yourself with too much running. Just listen to your body and when you can’t figure it out or it doesn’t get better with a little time off – go ask an expert.

Bone Fragment Symptoms:

  • Ankle feels like it needs to pop or it’s aligned incorrectly.
  • It comes on sudden – from a slight twist or sitting on it the wrong way.
  • It disappears suddenly only leaving you with a stiff feeling.
  • It may not have bothered you before during a workout or when you run.
  • You may not have swelling or any discoloration.

How to Treat This Type of Ankle Pain:

  • Start by doing RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to see if that helps.
  • If RICE doesn’t help after a few days and it’s still hard to walk – make an appointment with a sports doctor.
  • Get an X-ray to rule out stress fracture, sprains, etc.
  • If you have a bone chip – take a few days off to rest and then gradually get back into your routine. You may want to avoid any twisting or lots of jumping (plyometrics, etc).


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