Ankle Injuries in Runners - Tips for Winter Running

The winter season brings its own challenges to the runner. This does not mean that running in winter cannot be enjoyed.

The most important thing about running in winter is having good equipment and taking the precaution to warm up before training. Planning the length of the running route and adjusting the running speed according to the circumstances is also advisable. Regarding the outfit, appropriate running shoes are the most important. In slippery slopes, spike shoes provide good grip to keep the training pace. Many running shoes nowadays are almost completely waterproof, reducing the effect of moisture and, for example, foot abrasion. As for the accessories, reflective vests and headlights increase the runner’s visibility and safety in the dark.

Proper warm-up and gentle stretching of the muscles before exercise are especially important in cold weather. Warming up improves blood circulation, muscle performance and reaction speed. It can also prevent muscle and tendon injuries. The body should be warmed up especially well before drills in winter.

Running can certainly adapt to prevailing conditions and, possibly, engage in creativity. In winter, alternative exercises such as skiing, spinning, or aqua running are good options. It is also advisable to use indoor running tracks and treadmills, especially during harder exercise. Running on the slippery roads and bad running technique can easily lead to various stress injuries and muscle / tendon overloading disorders.

The most common ankle injuries in runners are ankle sprains and Achilles tendon pain. Minor ankle sprains usually improve with ice and short-term ankle support. In severe cases, a significant part of the ankle ligaments are injured or completely torn. Additionally, severe injuries can be associated with other minor injuries, so a thorough exam at the doctor's office often helps the recovery process. In general, an ankle sprain is treated following the principles of functional rehabilitation. An accurate diagnosis of the injury and the patient’s physical activity level influence the choice of the treatment.

Achilles tendon problems are also common in runners. Symptoms may vary from occasional pain and stiffness to the complete Achilles tendon rupture. Often, Achilles tendon pain is alleviated by rest, rehabiliation and modified training methods. As the symptoms get worse, it is advisable to seek an expert as some of these injuries to the ankle and Achilles may require operative treatment.

Lasse Lempainen
Orthopaedic surgeon


Lasse Lempainen
ortopedian erikoislääkäri
urheiluortopedian dosentti

Lasse Lempainen (Pihlajalinna)