Being told you may never run again, as people undergoing ankle fusion surgery are often advised, can be a devastating blow to an avid runner. Because ankle fusion prevents the ankle from moving up and down, it is a fair assumption by doctors that running would be difficult. However, according to the London Foot and Ankle Centre, with patience, perseverance and proper footwear, a scaled-back running regime may still be possible for some.
Check with your health-care provider to make sure your ankle is fully healed and is safe for you to try running. In most cases, full fusion of the ankle bones takes between six months and a year, with varying restrictions on how much weight can be placed on the affected leg.
Invest in a well-fitting, comfortable pair of rocker-soled running shoes. These shoes have a curved bottom for the foot to roll over when it hits the ground. This can help mimic the up-and-down movement an ankle would normally make without actually requiring any movement of the ankle.
Begin your training by first becoming comfortable with walking in the rocker-soled shoes. Focus on having your heel hit the ground first and rolling your foot forward to lift off with your toes.
Over several days, take regular walks in your shoes, starting out at an easy stroll and gradually increasing your speed until you reach a fast walk.
Once you feel totally comfortable with your fast walk, try increasing your speed up to a very light jog. Remember to have your heels hit first and roll through the step to lift off with your toes.
Stick with a light jog for two to three minutes the first day. Overdoing it could lead to pain or injury.
Slowly increase the amount of time you run by one to two minutes and your speed (if desired) each time you go out.
Keep in mind that not everyone with a fused ankle will be able to run. If you find that it doesn't work for you, try biking, swimming or other low-impact activities.
Stop immediately if you feel pain or are unsteady on your feet.