How come my ankles are so tight?

I am a 46 year old male and I have been distance running for almost 10 years now. I have completed roughly one marathon per year in this time. I would describe my training like a roll-a-coaster. I ramp up in miles per week when preparing for a marathon and drop off dramatically when not. In other words, 35-45 miles per week in training and 5-10 when not. My years of running have been pain free outside of the occasional mild knee pain or blisters. But lately my ankles are giving me a real concern. First off they dont like to bend or work first thing in the morning. A hot shower and I am good to go. However, they now stiffen up throughout the day. Like when I am at my desk for a while or after driving. There is a certain amount of pain but mostly they are stiff and dont bend well anymore. I replace my shoes every 300 miles or so. A couple months ago I purchased some gel inserts when this first began. This seemed to make things worse. So I removed the inserts and things did get better but I am still dealing with the problem. Any ideas? Bob

Bob,
You problem sounds like one I have been struggling with for the past year. I have been running since 2000 putting in Marathon and Half Marathon miles since 2005. I too started having tight ankles when I woke up. My husband started calling me gimpy. Then it progressed to where I would have tight ankles every time I stood up or got out of the car.

I started wearing very supportive running shoes when I wasnt running. They are the Saucony Grid Stable 6. It took a while, but soon my ankle pain diminished by about 85%. Then I was forced to purchase a new make and brand of shoe because mine were discontinued. I went to Running Fit Novi and they fit me in a Mizuno Wave Alchemy 7. Mizuno puts these shoes in the Motion Control category and I never thought that I was a candidate for that type of shoe. Anyway, after switching to the Mizunos I have no ankle pain at all! Not even first thing in the morning.

So I would suggest that you first look at the shoes you wear when you are not running. Are they supportive? If youre not in the position to wear running shoes to work, New Balance offers a slew of dress shoes that offer a ton of support. Then I would suggest that you reevaluate your running shoes. It could be that, like me, you have outgrown you tried and true brand of shoe and its time to try something different.

Good Luck!
Helen
Running Fit Headquarters

Hi Bob,
Stretch, ice and heat! I especially find that rotating my ankles in alternating directions help to keep them flexible.

If you are able and interested, try running on softer surfaces that are more forgiving than our roads. There are lots of parks with great trails, and/or you can even go to a soccer field or baseball diamond and run on the soft grass and dirt.

It would also help to be a bit more consistent in your training so that your body does not experience such a jolt and never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%.

After so many years of pounding, you might benefit from more cross training especially a Yoga and/or Pilates class.

Good luck and maybe I'll see you out on the trails! And check out Running Fit's website for lots of great trail races!

Tracey Cohen
Running Fit Novi

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