I hurt my ankle last month, and had to quit running.

There was no injury event. In late September I had two weeks of very modest running and fairly modest walking—and then one night (after a rest day!) turning over in bed made my ankle hurt bad enough that it woke me up.

It didn’t seem bad. I quit running and waited for it to get better. Except it turned out to be easily reinjured. (It seemed especially prone to reinjury related to bus riding. Three different times I hurt it that way—once running to catch a bus, once stepping down from the bus and landing hard on that foot, and once just stepping up into the bus pushing off with that foot.)

After about three weeks, I began to think that maybe it was a stress fraction or some other injury that might need more than just rest to get better. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t, and it didn’t.)

I went to see my doctor, who ordered x-rays and a podiatry consult. The podiatrist I saw was an orthopedic surgeon, who had quit doing surgery to do this instead.

According to my orthopedic surgeon/podiatrist, there was no sign of a stress fracture—but it almost didn’t matter anyway, because stress fractures of the ankle and leg (except at the head of the femur) very rarely dislocate. The treatment for almost any injury of this sort is just to rest it until it gets better.

My formal diagnosis was peroneal tendonitis.

My ankle seems to finally be about all better. Yesterday I (once again) carelessly ran for the bus—and this time it didn’t hurt! However, Jackie has several tasks for me to accomplish over the next few days, and doesn’t want me to be unable to accomplish them because I’m hobbling around. So I’ve agreed to hold off on running for one more week.

My orthopedic surgeon/podiatrist is also a runner, and he sounds just like a runner. Jackie asked if my having switched to minimalist shoes the previous summer might have put me at more risk for injury. The doctor didn’t seem to think so, and mentioned that he had started wearing five-finger shoes for his short training runs. He had liked them well enough, that when it came time for his half-marathon, he’d abruptly decided to wear them for the race, even though he hadn’t been wearing them for his long training runs. Said it worked out fine for him.

I expect the same will be true of me. I’ll resolve to be more careful about adding distance next year, but I doubt if my resolution will make much difference. Long runs feel too good.

As Steven says, “Running is great exercise between injures.”

My only real hope is to do a better job of maintaining a base level of fitness over the winter, and I have a plan for doing so.

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4 thoughts on “Hurt ankle, almost better

  1. I have had (and still wrestle with) peroneal tendinitis. Strengthening your stability muscles (proprioception exercises like standing on one foot with your eyes closed, using a dyna-disk or other stability disk) and stretching your calf muscle will help. It also seems to help me to self-massage high on my calf on the outside, under my knee – where the top of the peroneal tendon attaches. Good luck getting rid of it.

  2. Thanks! My orthopedist also mentioned calf stretches. His suggested variations on the standard stretch included stretching both legs at once, and repeating the stretch with the knees bent. (That’s kind of awkward to do, but I’m working on it.) I do very little massage, and will work at adding some.

    I do quite a bit of standing-on-one-leg exercise as part of my tai chi practice, but it probably is time to step up the difficulty—like doing it eyes-closed.

  3. The knees-bent thing stretches a different part of your calf – one is gastrocnemius and the other is soleus but I don’t remember which is which!

    I can do standing on one leg on the dynadisc for about a minute, but if I close my eyes I fall off immediately. Standing on one leg on the solid ground with eyes closed is surprisingly hard, too.

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