Suffering from Ankle Pain? Here’s How To Choose The Best Running Shoes

Finding suitable shoes to alleviate ankle pain

Choosing the best running shoes for ankle problems depends on the kind of ankle problem that you are experiencing. Most ankle problems are as a result of foot problems such as high arches, flat feet, bunions, and hammertoes.

Shoes wear out after about 300 hours of aerobic activity, and therefore it may be time for you to get a new pair. The wrong kind of shoes for the specific activity you are involved in can cause foot and ankle problems, and this is according to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. An improperly fitted shoe is also a recipe for disaster.

It is important to note that although the right shoe will help in reducing the symptoms, they alone will not eliminate the condition. They are just a part of the overall treatment plan which might include proper orthotics or arch supports, rehabilitation exercises, or training modifications among other treatments.

It may, therefore, be important for you to visit a sports podiatrist near you if the recommended shoes do not seem to help.

The three common ankle problems are;

  • Ankles that are painful due to arthritis in the ankles
  • Ankles that are prone to sprains or unstable ankles
  • Painful ankles due to overpronation (flat feet)
Normal & Arthritic Ankle Joints. Image credit: My Ankle

How to pick running shoes for ankle arthritis

If you suffer from ankle arthritis, it is advisable to seek a go-ahead from a doctor before you run on it.

The shoe you pick should provide exceptional cushioning when the foot hits the ground by reducing the force through the joint. It should also have a rocker sole which limits the ankle joint motion.

The rocker sole is a thicker than normal sole that has a slightly rounded heel. It creates a rocking effect which will be useful in alleviating ankle pain. A superb example of shoes that do this are Brooks running shoes – take a look at their Adrenaline GTS 17 models which offer supreme cushioning and comfort.

How to pick running shoes for unstable ankles

If your ankles are prone to sprains, then you most likely suffer from a condition called chronic lateral ankle instability. This condition needs comprehensive treatment.

With an unstable ankle, your running shoes need to be stable on the lateral side (the outside). This kind of shoe will not allow your foot to collapse to the inside, thereby preventing lateral ankle sprains.

The shoes you choose should also have a proper cushion on the inside, but firmer on the outside of the midsole. This will prevent the ankle from going over.

If you have had previous injuries or are just prone to ankle twists, the best running shoes need to provide balance, protect, and keep the ankle area stable.

The use of ankle arch supports has also been shown to improve the stability of the ankle in addition to a good shoe.

How to pick running shoes for ankle pain due to flat feet

If you have an extremely flat foot, the ankle tends to roll in putting an enormous amount of stress on it. In this case, the perfect shoes should be able to limit the excessive pronation.

You may also need to use an arch support inside the shoe if the ankle pain is secondary to an overpronated foot. In most cases, people with flat feet also have wider feet, so you need a support that has adequate width and adequate arch support at the same time.

If your flat feet are very severe, you may also need custom made orthotics to help eliminate your ankle pain. Orthotics will stabilize your feet and therefore prevent ankle pain.

Appropriate everyday shoes

Note that, finding the right running shoe may not be the end of your problems if your other everyday shoes are not appropriate. High heels, open backed shoes, flip flops, and sandals can affect your gait and aggravate your ankle problems. It is, therefore, important to always find shoes that support your ankles at all times so that you can enjoy pain-free runs.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17. Image credit: Running Shoes Guru

Over-the-counter modifications

There are also a few modifications that are available in the shoe stores that do not require a doctor’s prescription. These include arch supports, cushioned inserts, and stiff heel cups, which will soften the blows to the ankle with each step you make. Most inserts slide into your shoe for ankle relief. You can also wrap your ankle prior to putting on your shoes to provide some extra support.

If your ankle problems are chronic and over-the-counter shoe inserts do not seem to work, it is time to consult with a podiatrist who can modify prescription orthotics for you.

Proper fit

Having a shoe that is a size larger than your everyday shoe also alleviates the excess strain on your ankles. This is because it is a proper fit and your feet do not slide around. You can also replace the laces of your shoes with Velcro closures to achieve a tighter and more stable fit. Shoes that provide ankle support like the high-tops used for basketball are also ideal.