Ankle instability / injury

I think i've done "too much, too soon" - started running again 10 days ago after 5 years of exclusively cycling. 

Long story short, I've tried to keep my runs disciplined, knowing my running-specific conditioning is going to be way behind my cardiovascular fitness for a while (I'm a competitive cyclist so I have a strong base fitness, but my legs need to adapt to pounding the pavement of course).

I did a series of slow runs last week, culminating with 10 miles saturday and 9 miles yesterday. Both at long slow run pace. 

And during the last 3 or 4 miles yesterday, I noticed a feeling of real instability in my right ankle. I'll try to explain in non-medical terms how it feels:

- Like my ankle is going to give way, but only specifically when the pavement slopes (even very slightly) down to the left or I otherwise  need to put weight on the inside of the foot. I found myself seeking the flattest part of the pavement, as that seemed to provide relief, and then i'd almost be limping-running when the pavement sloped down to my left.

- Turning a sharp right hand corner was borderline painful, I had to skip-hop as it felt like my right ankle would roll inwards and collapse.

- When i stopped to stretch (and then walk), I noticed it hurts to raise my big toe.

- Not so noticeable if I run deliberately on the outside of my foot, or flat-footed/ forefoot only (not my style, I'm a heel striker).

I did RICE yesterday but it's sore this morning. I don't see myself being able to run for a few days.

Would really appreciate any help identifying the issue. I'm going to get it looked at by a doc and/or physio because there's no way I csn ignore this and carry on ramping up thr volume, but would be good to know if it sounds like something obvious.

Might be worth noting that I have very high arches. Very high. Almost claw-like feet! And i wear neutral shoes (recently gait-assessed).

Thanks very much.


  • Just walked to the office. I would add that it really feel like more of an issue with the top/inside of my foot, almost like it's bruised or strained above the arch. Sore to the touch.
  • Hello, pavementbasher. 

    Taking into consideration that you felt as though your ankle was going to collapse inwards when camber of the pavement forced weight on to the medial (inner) side of your foot, I suspect that your high arches (or cavus foot) may be a contributory factor.  

    Generally, those who possess high arches also encounter stiffness and rigidity throughout the mid-foot, making it difficult for the arch to pronate/collapse under weight.  It should be pointed out that pronation/supination of feet and ankles isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it's something that all feet ought to be capable of, regardless of strike pattern (heel/mid/forefoot).  Remaining constantly stuck in pronation/supination, however, does present a problem but as you're a neutral runner, I'll assume that neither remains commonplace.  

    As you've also mentioned the existence of claw toes, it'd suggest that extensors in the anterior compartment of your lower leg, ankle and foot are also rather tight and, thus, require mobilisation.  

    Regardless of whether the arch remains high or flat, the prescription remains largely the same, in that feet need to be strengthened and (re)mobilised to improve their overall functionality, particularly when it comes to running.  By simply considering that both a quarter of the body's bones and muscles exist in the feet, it ought to tell you that they shouldn't be ignored or neglected.  

    While regular rolling of the feet will release tension from the plantar fascia and extrinsic muscles that comprise the posterior compartment of the leg/foot, for example, it does little for those that comprise the anterior compartment.  

    To increase mobility of soft tissue that support bones of your mid-foot, sitting with foot crossed over the knee, if possible, you need to regularly slide fingers between your toes (it helps to moisturise feet first), before pulling down upon them (plantarflexion), pushing them back (dorsiflexion), and gently rotating your mid-foot clockwise and counter clockwise (eversion and inversion).  

    If the above initially proves troublesome, standing side on to to wall for support, extend one leg backwards and gently press knuckles of the toes into a carpet/rug.  By doing so, you should immediately begin to feel a stretch in the front of your foot, ankle and front of lower leg.  If arches start to cramp, simply relax and switch to the opposing foot.  

    Since you're a cyclist, also consider that many hours spent in cleats over the years won't have been particularly kind to your feet either, compressing and squishing toes together.  As such, investing in a set of silicon toe separators ( ought to be considered too, helping to restore anatomical alignment of bones in your feet.  

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