7 months post ORIF surgery - subconsciously don't trust ankle / continual limp while running

Edited , 4 users are following.

Hello all,

I broke my fibula and tore a bunch of the ligaments in my ankle / foot in september, approximately 7 months ago. I had double surgery, one was an emergency surgery to put an external cage with multiple rods through my foot and shin to hold my foot in place and then a few days later I had ORIF surgery to place a rod and 6 screws in to heal. So far everything has healed and I have gone through physical therapy.

I've started running on it for a couple months now slowly increasing the distance and speed, however, for approximately the first mile, sometimes longer, I have a bad limp. It seems as if I limp due to my brain not trusting my ankle. I generally do not have any pain in the ankle or the site where the plate and screws are its just as soon as the ankle that had the break touches the road my other foot immediately tries to take the weight off the bad leg. Limping while you're running for a mile starts to take a toll on my lower back and other parts of my body. If I can make it through the first mile the limp goes away and I can run as long as I want.

So my question for those that have fully recovered or those that have had this issue how did you go about addressing it? I don't feel any ankle pain any more it seems to be just my brain subconsciously not wanting to trust my bad ankle. I would like to get back into running. I have asked my doctor about it and she suggested just continually running and repetition, however, the last few weeks it seems to have gotten worse. As soon as I start running I'll start limping and my lower back immediately starts hurting bad and I have to stop. I can't really run and have repetition if I have to stop immediately. Any tips, advice or maybe some exercises you have used would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi have you tried wearing a light ankle support? maybe would help brain trust ankle until you feel safer

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    • Posted

      No, I havent tried any ankle support while running. I do have an ankle brace and a few compression socks. I've seen a couple people in the replies mention that, next time I go for a run I will try it. Makes sense that it may help the brain trust the ankle better, thank you.

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  • Posted

    I think anyone who has gone through this injury has it in the back of their minds off and on Because who wants to go through again?!?!

    I wear an ankle brace, more like a compression sock for my long walks

    My surgery was 7/11/19

    Im up to about 4 miles a day now but Im walking not running

    Are you stretching out prior to your run?

    Maybe just start out walking for first portion then work into the run

    Unless youve experienced this injury you never will know the mental effect it leaves you with I completely understand your concern.

    All my best

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    • Posted

      I've seen a couple replies mention compression socks and ankle brace. I have both. My next run I'll try wearing a compression sock, if that doesn't work try the ankle brace. Maybe that will help with the mental part of it. I've definitely added in more stretching and warming up prior to. I'll add in some light hops to get my ankle used to the impact as well. Some days it feels great and I have no limp at all, two days ago I tried to run and whatever I did could not warm up enough and the limp wouldn't go away. Thank you for the reply

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  • Edited

    i had the same type of injury 2.5 years ago. i'm a distance runner as well and love working out lifting weights. you might want to try running on a treadmill to help with the impact on the ankle. i also found the compression ankle brace works tremendously for ankle support. running on the road and concrete is hard to do for the ankle and your doing more harm than good . the treadmill is the route to take and i know its boring bit its nececssary

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    • Posted

      Have you found that you're 100% healed or close to 2.5 years later? When do you think you healed as much as you were going to heal?

      I'm not so much a distance runner but definitely try to keep in shape and try to run 2-6 miles a few times a week along with lifting weights every day. For the most part I run on the treadmill as I'm already at the gym lifting.

      A few people have mentioned the compression sock so I will definitely give that one a go. Thank you for the reply.

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    • Posted

      i'm 100 percent healed with any problems at all. i love running cause it's relaxing and challenging for me. i'm doing more strength exercises cause one leg was smaller than the other and i had to equal out that problem by doing isolation exercises with leg workouts . at 2.5 years i feel great but i had to put the work in. take it slow at try not yo do to much at one time.

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    • Posted

      That's awesome to hear! Hopefully I can reach that 100% as well. I haven't done much isolation work, I have been trying to keep the weight light and the reps high. I noticed at lower weight my legs work equally, but if I increase the weight too much the other leg will take over. I will add in some isolation work as well to try to get the one leg back on par with the healthy leg. Thanks again for your advice and help

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  • Posted

    Hi Jordan,

    I broke my right fibula last April and blew out all the ligaments in both ankles, I got back to running in October. I wasn't running much prior to the injury but was playing ice hockey. One of the goals the surgeon gave me was I had to be able to run on it properly before I was allowed back on the ice. Talk about motivation!

    You said you talked to the doctor about it, but have you talked to the physio about it? and have you seen an exerise phyisologist (EP)? My EP has been amazing! I would 100% suggest to anyone with injury trying to get back to activity to work with an EP once they are past the initial physio phase. I worked with a physio first, probably for 10 weeks, (from week 2 onwards because the non-broken leg needed treatment first, then from week 6 starting to weight bear) and then from week 12 with the EP. They focus more on movement patterns and work with your goals to get your body moving in the correct manner. It really helped me get my running patterns down.

    One thing they had me doing for ages before even running on grass was running on a mini tramp, and a LOT of ankle stability work. Single leg standing, single leg squats, hopping, lunges, everything on one leg. Straight line running is no problem now, but lateral stops and turns are aren't great so that's what we are working on at the moment, which surprisingly, involves more hopping!

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    • Posted

      Your injury sounds pretty bad, both ankles! That definitely is motivation! I don't play ice hockey, but love hiking, lifting weights and running. So I was definitely putting in the work in physical therapy.

      When you say physio do you mean physical therapist? I actually just moved back in February. I was supposed to move in November until I broke my ankle, and that was postponed 3 months to give me enough time to comfortably move around / carry luggage on an airport etc. So as soon as I got here I contacted the doctor here to get a referral for orthopedics and to get back on track to see'ing orthopedics and physical therapy if needed.

      I actually have never heard of an EP. Once this coronavirus situation dies down I plan to get back on a treatment plan. I just googled exercise physiologist and it sounds precisely what I need. I will ask my doctor if they have an EP in the hospital I work at and if I can get seen. Thank you for the reply

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