My Ankles Hurt When I Run | RUN FOREFOOT


hi everyone it’s Bretta Riches is from RunForefoot.com and today I’m going to be talking to you about another way a runner can get an ankle injury. Now if you are learning forefoot running or if you are forefoot runner that’s great because forefoot running results in less impact forces on the body, so it’s easier on the lower leg, it’s easier on your knee, it’s easier on your hip joint as well as your back, but if you have for example learned forefoot running and you think that your forefoot strike mechanics are really good, but you encounter a minor ankle injury or localized ankle swelling or soreness, one of the main causes of an ankle injury is that your running shoes might be too softly thickly cushioned. You want to make sure that you can really feel the ground when you run and that when you land, your landing stability isn’t wobbly. The ankles have a very important role in forefoot running in that they are in charge of maintaining stability. So, the ankles have a very important and a big essential role in forefoot running. Early studies have found that soft running shoes with very soft compressible materials increases unwanted ankle movements at touchdown during running because of the compressible materials are being heavily eccentrically loaded which adds more mechanical demands on the ankle joint, so when you’re running in very thickly cushioned running shoes you are essentially running with a double whammy in that the thick compressible materials diminishes sensory input or sensory stimulation on the bottom of the foot making it more difficult to feel the ground not only that rapid ankle movements results especially if you have muscle strength imbalances particularly in the hips because you need strong hip muscles to execute very efficient limb control during running this is why you want to aim for a running shoe that is very thin and that allows the ground to feel hard in a sense because when you run barefoot obviously the ground is perceived as a little bit harder than softer which is why running barefoot feels very uncomfortable when you strike the ground on your heel because of a hardness feeling and this is why barefoot running is a great tool for helping us learn to land on the forefoot with greater back-kick efficiency so it basically helps us have a quiker interaction with the ground, but not only that there’s a greater level of ankle position sense when you run barefoot or when you run in a running shoe that’s very thin, that is very barefoot-like and this helps drive greater stability during forefoot running. One studies found, which I linked below, by dr. Stephen Robbins MD, who is a barefoot advocate at McGill University he found that expanded polymer foam which is basically the very thick, soft compressible materials contained in most traditional running shoes, these running shoes caused a very bad condition of the foot called sensory insulation and this sensory insulation causes dynamic instability during running and sensory insulation, all that means is that the nerves in the feet are very under-active because they’re unable to fully read and sense the ground due to the polymer foam materials contained in most running shoes and the problem with this type of foamy material under the foot is that doesn’t always deform under high pressure and this is why the actual foot surface remains very, very soft and isn’t a true representation of the natural ground. As a result, this type of poly- foam underfoot material causes a runner to develop very poor judgement on force pressure within the foot which may also influence ankle pain during running. So when you’re running in very softly thick cushion running shoes, you can’t really feel the force pressures within the foot Now when you run barefoot, you want to make barefoot running feel more comfortable, so you naturally and reflexively adjust accordingly based on the sensations that you are feeling from the ground, so this involves landing on the forefoot, but not only landing on the forefoot, but landing on the lateral or the outer side of the forefoot first which is very important for equally distributing or reducing force pressure over the foot because remember you want to make running more comfortable for yourself in the absence very thick cushion running shoes, but the problem with wearing very thick cushion running shoes is that you’re unable to detect the force pressures shooting through the foot and you actually tend to land harder simply because the soft, thick cushioning masks the sensation of any type of impact that is being exerted on the foot. So basically this type of shoe materials causes the foot to be overly eccentrically loaded which basically means is that the ankle is doing much more work than it has to as opposed to wearing minimalist running shoes or running barefoot and this is key especially if you’re learning forefoot running because when you’re learning a new running condition you want to make sure that your balance conditions are very optimized. The last thing you want is running with instability because your neuromuscular system is trying to learn a new running condition but it’s going to have more difficulty when you really can’t sense the ground and you don’t get a true representation of how your foot is accurately striking the ground so if you are a new forefoot runner and you are struggling with persistent ankle pain you might want to take a look at your footwear and if it’s super-thick like most running shoes you probably would be better off running in a minimalist shoe a shoe that’s more zero drop in a shoe that doesn’t give you that squishy foamy sensation. You want to run in a shoe that feels hard in a sense, but also a shoe that is very flexible, but you want a shoe that mimics barefoot conditions because remember when we run barefoot on the natural ground the ground is perceived as a little harder than soft this is why to make the landing comfortable a lot of runners, a lot of barefoot runners instantly use a forefoot strike landing to make running much softer on the whole body this is why it’s key to choose a shoe that is very barefoot feeling so it helps you a team better stability and it allows you to execute a very efficient and safe forefoot strike landing, so I hope you found this video useful and for more forefoot running tips as well as if you want to know more on why heel strike running causes injury, please head on over to my blog RunForefoot.com where you will also find information barefoot running tips as well as my reviews and recommendations on running shoes for forefoot running and don’t forget to subscribe to my youtube channel to stay updated on all the latest research on running thanks for listening and watching have fun out there on the roads bye for now

3 Comments

  • I run in vibrams. Sore ankles. I think I'm too fat.

  • Great advice. I m getting this issue and noticed frustration on painful ankle when running with very soft shoes. Thank you.

  • I began running with shoes that had a distance from heel to ground of above 30mm.. now I know why my ankles hurt every time I tried to run!
    Thank you!!

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