Can I let runners run in an ankle brace after they’ve had an ankle sprain? Well, that’s a great question, and that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.
Today’s episode actually comes from the question-and-answer period when I was lecturing at the International Foot and Ankle Foundation Medical Conference in Las Vegas. Specifically, I was giving a talk to physicians who were getting their Continuing Medical Education credits, and the talk was Conservative Management of Ankle Sprains in Runners Who Want to Run. So if you’ve sprained your ankle and you want to run, this was probably the talk that you would have appreciated.
But at the end of that talk, after I explained to doctors everything that I do with runners who have ankle sprains, I got a great question from Dr. Bryan Markinson, who’s a physician from New York, a very prominent one at that. He also lectures at those conferences. And Dr. Markinson asked me a great question. He just said, “Okay. Is this stupid or is this not stupid? Because I get runners that really want to run and I figure when they’re in good shape and they’re actually in good condition and it’s okay for them to run in an ankle brace. Is that really a thing that you do or not?”
That’s a great question. So, the short answer is yes, it is completely reasonable to do that. It’s not crazy. It’s not stupid. It is reasonable to actually use an ankle brace to try to protect your ankle so that it doesn’t wobble and sway and get re-injured. We all know there’s a very high risk of re-injury after you roll your ankle.
In fact, recently I saw a woman who was running on a trail here just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and she rolled her ankle, didn’t think that much about it, but because it had some natural pain relievers in there, some endorphins that actually dull the pain, it also dulls the sensation of where your foot is under you. And a couple of miles later, she rolled it further and actually broke her foot as a consequence of rolling the foot super hard.
Now, that can happen. That also can happen when you’re returning to running after you’ve recovered from an ankle sprain. The only issue with wearing a brace when you’ve had an ankle sprain is one of it’s really stiff. So, the reason it prevents you from rolling your ankle is that it provides a lot of support around the ankle. But those lace-up ankle braces that really do hold you firmly in position, stop motion. Well, you’re fighting the brace the whole time you’re running. So, if you’re doing long runs, if you’re running 10 miles, 20 miles, 18 miles, something like that, it’s really going to tear up your skin, and that may become a bigger problem in itself.
So technically, yes, you can run in a brace. I don’t generally do that with most runners. I try to do something like taping or some sort of other bracing that’s not as tough on your skin. But more importantly, if you really do the rehab exercises that I teach you in the ankle sprain course, well, you’re not going to need to do that because you can make the ankle inherently stronger so that you don’t need external support to hold your ankle still underneath you.
Great question, Dr. Markinson, and hopefully you found his question helpful for you. So, if you want to run in a brace that you’ve got for short runs, maybe it’s fine. Just be careful so it doesn’t tear up your skin.
If you liked this episode, please like it, please subscribe. And if you have an ankle sprain and you want to learn more about that, you can check out the Ankle Sprain Masterclass. You can get it for free at docontherun.com/anklepainmasterclass. So go check it out, and I’ll see you in the training.