As weight bearing joints, your ankles are designed to absorb shock, making it possible for you to jump, dance and run. If you experience pain in your ankles after cardiovascular exercise, it may mean your shoes are not providing the support your ankles require. In more serious instances, sore ankles after cardio may indicate an ankle sprain or arthritis. Speak to your doctor or health care practitioner if the pain in your ankles persists for more than 72 hours.
If your ankles hurt after cardio, the first place to look is your shoes. Footwear that is too old, worn or does not contain sufficient shock absorption for your ankle during high impact cardiovascular exercise can easily cause pain. Insufficient footwear can also lead to more chronic injuries in your ankles and feet if not replaced. When shopping for athletic shoes, try them on immediately after your workout, as feet tend to expand during exercise, according to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. Also, your new shoes need to be comfortable the instant you put them on. Don’t count on a break-in period to make them fit or feel better.
Arthritis in You Ankles
Sore ankles after cardio exercise may also indicate arthritis. This is especially true if you are female and over 40. If you experience other ankle symptoms such as swelling, stiffness, warmth or redness in and around your ankle and reduced range of motion, speak to your physician. In the meantime, adding resistance training to your exercise routine may curtail some of your symptoms. Strength training can reverse several of the effects commonly associated with rheumatoid arthritis, including pain, inflammation, muscle weakness and tiredness.
Soreness in one or both ankles after cardio may also indicate the presence of a sprain. Ankle sprains are common sports-related injuries and need to be fully rested and healed before returning to exercise. Otherwise the sprain may become recurrent and interfere with your training on a long-term basis. Other symptoms of sprains include swelling and loss of mobility.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Pain in the ankles after cardio may also signal tarsal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when the posterior tibial nerve located in the ankle becomes compressed and inflamed. Additional symptoms of this condition include pins and needles and numbness. Tarsal tunnel syndrome responds well to rest, ice therapy and anti-inflammatory medication.
- Medline Plus: Ankle Pain
- American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society: How to Decide if Trip to the Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Surgeon is Necessary
- American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society: How to Choose Athletic Shoes
- Sports Medicine: Strength Training as a Countermeasure to Aging Muscle and Chronic Disease; BF Hurley, Ph.D. et al.; April 2011
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeltal and Skin Diseases; Arthritis; October 2008
- Comprehensive Sports Injury Management: From Examination of Injury to Return to Sport; Jim Taylor, Ph.D. et al