As I recover from my strained ankle tendons I realize I have learned the hard way that one of the challenges of barefoot running in the snow is avoiding tendon injury. The problems are dealing with a slippery uneven running surface and keeping the tendons warm enough to have the flexibility to maintain stability on this kind of surface. Part of the solution is to do a good warm-up followed by plenty of stretching of those tendons. I also found it is a good idea to maintain a pace that will keep your feet, ankles and legs warm during the run and not slow down until you are done and somewhere warm. The other part of the solution is to run where there is a clear ice-free surface and preferably no salt.
I believe this injury would have occurred even if I was wearing running shoes, however I understand now that a barefoot runner is going to develop strength and stability in their ankles by the increased demand they put on them, but the flip side to that is when conditions are poor (cold, no stretching and running fast over rough terrain) the increased demand can cause injury to even the strong ankle of a barefoot runner.
Strains can take a longer time to heal than other injuries. It’s been almost two months since I injured my ankle and I still cannot run on it even though I can do moderate walking with no problem. I am seeing my Physiotherapist on a weekly basis and she seems happy with my progress however, I am not planning any races this year at this point.
There are still places along the tendons that are swollen with fluid and causing some discomfort, but it is a lot better than it was. I am currently taking Aleve in the morning and at night to reduce the swelling and wearing a tensor bandage with a foam insert to put pressure on the swollen parts of the tendon. My Physiotherapist said she thought I could try running at the indoor track on Tuesday February 16. The other night I went to the Wellness Centre and tried the Deep Water Running and I found out how much cardio I have lost in the last two months. The Deep Water Running involves wearing a floatation belt, tethering yourself to the wall of the pool as you run suspended in the deep end. It’s a good workout and I plan on doing more of this until I am healed.