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Couch to 5K
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Ankle pain (week 4, run 1)

I finished week 4 run 1 on Tuesday. Barely finished, to be honest. Week 3 had been a fantastic, almost emotional experience, but this time I took a few extra seconds to start running when I was supposed to, and was literally shaking when I got off the treadmill at the end. Instead of the usual accomplished-pride I feel after completing the run, I felt frustrated, angry and in a generally bad mood. My ankles started hurting straight away when I started running (it hurt less after a bit, but the pain didn't completely go away), making it much more difficult to run, and then when I finished they continued to hurt a little when I walked, and are doing so still - although it comes and goes, always when I walk - two days later. Mostly on the right foot at the back (the thinner bit above the heel). I've decided to take this week off as I'm going to see my parents for the weekend anyway and there's no gym in my little homevillage, and hopefully the pain will have stopped by the time I restart week 4, but I'm curious to know if anyone else has experienced something similar, and if they know what the cause is? My first thought was that maybe I hadn't stretched enough (and by that I mean at all), but I'm not even sure how to go about stretching my ankles...

3 Replies

Sorry your run was meh. It happens to all of us from time to time. I haven't had that pain so wouldn't want to misadvise you, nor do I run on a treadmill. Have you checked out the post run exercises here on the forum? Also our general mantra is aching is okay, but pain certainly not. And 2 days later pain seems worth getting it professionally checked out. Sorry I can only offer sympathy rather than solutions, but there are many treadmill devotees on here, who may have experienced your problem. Having said that it could be nothing to do with the treadmill hence my thought you should get it checked. In any event, I hope it's not too serious and that you can get back to running and experience that W3 glorious feeling you described.


Sounds a bit like tight achilles to me, so you do need to go carefully, I think. Not something I have had but you could Google and see what exercises are suggested. Are you stretching out afterwards - tight calves won't help. Hope it settles soon for you.


Since the ankle is a joint, there’s very little you can do to stretch it. However, much can be done to improve its range of motion, through plantar/dorsi flexion (up and down) and inversion/eversion (side to side) exercises, which help to stretch and strengthen the soft tissue that supports its movement.

While you visit the parents this weekend, if time allows, research the kind of exercises that dancers perform, to stretch and strengthen their feet and ankles.

On an evening, for example, I’ll sit in the chair and regularly extend my legs and alternate between quick and slow rotation of my ankles, both clockwise and anti-clockwise while also pointing my toes (plantar-flexion), in addition to stretching my plantar, so the toes point back over towards my shin (dorsi-flexion), holding the stretch for up to five seconds before relaxing and repeating.

To perform inversion and eversion movements, while still sitting, place feet on the floor hip-width apart. Lift the toes, so that only the heels remain in contact with the ground and simply turn the feet inward (inversion) and outwards (eversion), holding the movements for up to five seconds.

Again, these are simply basic movements, that can be made more challenging through the use of resistance bands (by watching videos of dancers exercising their feet, you’ll see a host of more advanced movements).

Additionally, if you don’t currently do so, introduce calf strengthening exercises, alongside stretching, since the lowering or eccentric part of the calf exercises places load upon the Achilles tendon, plantar fascia and soleus heads of the calves (which also form part of the Achilles.

Since you run upon the treadmill in the gym, also use the calf machines, since you’re likely to achieve more from using gym resistance, as opposed to body weight, since they allow the calves to be worked in isolation. Just be sure to place the weight through your big toe and ball of the foot as the weight is lifted, ensuring full contraction and extension (no bouncing the weight).

Start with a fairly light weight, so that you can focus on correct form, increasing it as the calves become more accustomed.

Lastly, take some time to roll your feet out, to help relieve tension held in them. If you don’t have a foot massage roller, a tennis or golf ball will suffice. Wriggling, curling and flexing your toes will also help to relieve tension and maintain their flexibility, something you may find useful if your feet spend the majority of the day inside less than sensible footwear.


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