Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ankle sprain - is there a yoga pose for that?

two little runners ~Kristen 

The anklet of pain I felt after last week’s interval work out turned out to be a sprained ankle. Damn. A very minor sprain in the scheme of sprains. And I would very likely not notice it if I weren’t trying to run. The pain is at 0 when I walk. At 1 when I go up and down stairs. At 2 when I stand on one foot. And at 6 when I try to run. Just enough pain and instability to break my form. 

My marathon is in jeopardy. I don’t know how I can possibly run 26.2 miles, when less than 30 days prior to the race, I can only run 2 minutes consecutively.

So no miles this week. I focused again on rest and recovery. The usual yoga, foam rolling, and stretching. And I tried out some new techniques. If only I could rest and recover my way to the start line! 

I’ve been experimenting with restorative yoga poses, which I’ve been reading about in Sage Roundtree’s book The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery: Rest, Relax & Restore for Peak Performance. The basic premise is to hold very easy poses for a very long time. So far I am really digging two poses: legs up the wall and supported back bend. These poses are so relaxing. When I finish, I am in a haze – and I am not a person who easily relaxes! What’s been so interesting about these poses is the tiny muscle releases that I’ve felt 7 to 10 minutes after I start the pose, even though the pose doesn’t feel like much of a stretch at all.

  •  Legs up the wall pose is pretty straight forward. I lay down on my back in front of a wall and put my legs straight up the wall (L shape). I give myself a little bit of distance from the wall so that my hamstrings are not strained at all. Palms face up to open the chest. Sometimes I find a pillow under my head and/or hips comfortable, other times not. Bottom line with these poses is that I make myself comfortable because I stay them for 10 to 20 minutes. I try to relax entirely, using only enough energy to keep my legs upright. On this pose, I’ve gotten some low back releases.
  • I’ve been doing supported backbend in bed at night and have been falling asleep in the pose. I start by lying down on my back, and then I elevate my head slightly above the level of my hips. I have pillows supporting me all the way from my head to lower back. Then I put my legs in a very loose bounded ankle pose – soles of feet together but very far out so that I feel just the tiniest stretch in my inner thighs. Palms face up to open the chest. I’ve been feeling some inner thigh releases in this pose.

The other restoration technique I tried is called MELT – which is sort of like foam rolling for your connective tissues. I took a MELT class, and although I think it is partially witchcraft and junk science (either that or there is no effort to explain the science very well), I picked up a few new techniques that I am going to put into my repertoire.

5 weeks out (0 miles)

Sat. 4/20 – Yoga.

Sun. 4/21 – MELT.

Mon. 4/22 – Legs. More of a PT leg session. Just getting a little bit of blood back to the sprained ankle’s ligaments.

Tue. 4/23 – Yoga.

Wed. 4/24 – Yoga.

Thu. 4/25 – Yoga.

Fri. 4/26 – Legs and core. Legs were again more of a PT session. Ankle improved a little bit since Monday.

two little runners ~Kristen 


  1. Oh no! Stay off that foot and HEAL soon, girl!

    I have never heard of MELT before. I need to look it up. Sounds like I would be skeptical of it but also I would love to have a class teaching me about all the uses of foam rolling. I am still pretty beginner-ish with the foam roller I have owned for 3+ years. I guess I could just look on youtube...

    1. Hi Amy!! I am a big believer in foam rolling! I do it daily. I think it is the most important sort of maintenance chore for runners, especially those of us who sit at a desk all day long. With foam rolling, I target IT band, inner thigh, periformis, calves, and quads. MELT is a little different from foam rolling because you aren't trying to get deep into the muscle tissue. With MELT, you are trying to unlock your joints and connective tissues (ligaments, tendons). ~Kristen

  2. This is a gratifyingly good topic. However, did you ask your orthopedic first before executing these yoga poses? You should. Not only are there different types of yoga poses for varying severity of each sprain, but mainly because we don't want to injure it again, more than anything else, while doing the poses. How's it now, by the way?

  3. Breaking your ankle is never a good thing. It hurts a lot whenever you try to move, even for just a little tilt. It’s so darn frustrating! Anyway, it’s good that those yoga techniques helped you ease the pain and pressure on your sprained ankle. At the very least, it can speed up your recovery from the injury. All the best!

    Jacqueline Hodges @ Dr. Koziol