Why exactly do my ankles hurt when I run?

why do my ankles hurt when i run

Whether you’ve been training for years or are new to running as part of a resolution to take more steps each day, there is nothing that will slow your pace faster than ankle pain. The question “why do my ankles hurt when I run” is one of the most commonly Googled questions, according to SEMRush. That’s probably because there are a multitude of running-related injuries that can cause ankle pain. 

Some of the most common injuries that can cause your ankles to hurt when you run include:

  • Tendinitis — This condition occurs when a tendon is irritated or inflamed. For runners, tendinitis often develops from overuse or poor foot support (see more about this in the plantar fasciitis section). When one of the tendons near the ankle is inflamed or stretched, your ankles may hurt during a run. Some runners describe it as a dull ache rather than a sharp pain. In some cases, you may feel it when you walk, as well. 
  • Plantar fasciitis The plantar fascia is a long ligament that runs from the heel to the toes and is responsible for the support of the foot. Many runners experience plantar fasciitis, which is damage to this ligament. In most cases, plantar fasciitis causes pain in the arch of the foot and heel, but depending on where the damage is in the ligament, you may feel pain in your ankle when you run because you are putting extra pressure on the damaged ligament.
  • Ankle strain — Similar to tendinitis, but a bit more serious, ankle strain occurs when the tendon in the ankle is torn. When this happens, you may experience sudden, sharp pain, as well as difficulty walking or moving your ankle. In some cases, there may be minor swelling and muscle spasms associated with an ankle strain.
  • Ankle sprain — While an ankle strain is a stretched or torn tendon, an ankle sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Similarly, the symptoms of this condition can cause severe pain in your ankles when you run (or stand, or walk, or anything). There will likely be pain, swelling and bruising associated with this injury, as well as difficulty walking. 

If you are constantly feeling pain in your ankles when you run, you should see a physical therapist to treat the root cause of your symptoms. At Whatcom Physical Therapy, we work with many patients who are both avid and recreational runners to help them get back on their feet after dealing with chronic ankle pain. To learn more about our services, schedule a free screening with our physical therapy team today.