I recently had an old friend reach out for help. Below is her question and my response.

Hey Lance! Long time no chat! How are things? I live in Japan now, haha. Sorry to message younoit of the blue but you seem like the perfect person to talk to. You always post interesting stuff and I was wondering if you could point me to some resources…
I have an old volleyball injury from 15 years ago that is starting to bother me now that I am getting old. I sprained my ankle quite badly when I was 14 and used to play sports from then on with one of those stirrup ankle braces. Now I am pretty active as we live in a huge city and I bike or walk everywhere (no car! Yay!) But now when I walk for more than an hour, the ankle hurts and I end up limping ever so slightly. We love hiking and city walking so sometimes I bike for an hour per day or walk for 3-5 hours on weekends. What should I do? Please send me a link or any resources you have. 🙂

Hey Laura! Awesome to hear from you! Hope you like Japan. It sounds like it would be more enjoyable if your ankle wasn’t so cranky.

As you walk for longer periods of time, you’ll get fatigued. This fatigue changes the way you walk and it eventually becomes painful. The simple first step is to do some strength training.

If you can build up the strength to control your ankle, then you can then develop more endurance to control it for longer periods of time.

The caveat is that you want to make sure you’re doing appropriate exercises that will transfer over to your life. Working out on machines will not help you, but excessively poor lifting technique is arguably more detrimental. You will default to natural tendencies because you’re used to them, but they will generally avoid addressing whatever issue is bothering your ankle.

Given that you’e had a prior injury, it’s likely that your ankle has a lower capacity for dealing with various stresses (in this case, walking for hours). It is also likely that using your ankle in whatever way you do is something familiar to your mind, and even though it hurts, at least you know your ankle is still there.

Having said all that, implementing some sort of strength training program will still likely yield some benefit and is the most cost-effective solution. Generally I would recommend you find a trainer, but I only maybe know one person in Tokyo to whom I could refer you. I generally don’t trust many people to coach effectively (or even at all in most cases). I do distance coaching where you could send me videos, but I do charge $199/month and I’m not sure if that’s an option for you or not.

That’s about as specific my advice can get for you at this point. Does that help at all?

If you think this can help guide someone, I’d love it if you sent this to them!