If you’re an avid runner, chances are you’ve already experienced foot pain. Here are the most common foot injuries and how to treat them.
People who run experience several measurable benefits for the body and mind. According to the American College of Cardiology, running is associated with a lower risk of death from any cause.
Running enhances cardiovascular health and mental fitness. It strengthens the lower body and the core muscles. It also provides runners with an important mental outlet which reduces stress and promotes creativity.
Many runners experience pain in their feet. Sometimes, this pain is severe enough that it causes people to give up on their favorite sport.
If you have foot pain but you don’t want to stop running, it is a good idea to see a podiatrist.
The specialists from Gotham Footcare share the causes and treatment of four different foot issues that could keep you off the track.
Compare Your Symptoms
When you have foot pain during or after running, you should carefully judge where your pain is and how it is affected by various activities. This knowledge can help your podiatrist or sports medicine doctor determine how best to help you.
While self-diagnosis is not recommended, these simple tests may shed some light on the source of your pain.
1. Stress Fractures
A stress fracture is a thin crack in the bone. This develops as a result of repetitive force or overuse. Most stress fractures occur in the lower leg and foot.
The metatarsals, the bones on top of the foot, are most likely to experience stress fractures.
If you have a stress fracture, you will notice minor weakness or pain in the area of the break. You will have pain deep within your foot. It may be tender and swollen. It may hurt with normal activity, and it may improve with rest.
If you do not have a stress fracture properly treated, it can cause severe pain. In extreme cases, the bone can also become displaced and move out of alignment.
Stress fractures can also turn into complete breaks or develop into arthritis. For this reason, you should always see a podiatrist when you have this type of foot pain.
There are no stretches or exercises that will help with a stress fracture. Prevention is a better course of action. Be sure to ramp up your training slowly to avoid overuse. As much as you can, run on even ground and try to avoid holes, rocks, and roots. One bad step can cause a stress fracture.
2. Plantar Fasciitis
Stabbing pains in the bottom of your foot may signal plantar fasciitis. Overuse of the plantar fascia, a wide band of tissue that connects your toes to your heel, leads to this condition.
If you wear worn-out or unsupportive shoes, or if you accelerate your training too quickly, you may end up with plantar fasciitis. Tight or weak calf muscles can also lead to this condition.
Plantar fasciitis is often at its worst when you get out of bed in the morning. Normal activity may help it feel better, but you may notice that it comes back after you have been seated or standing for a while. Pain is usually felt after exercise, not during.
Many people who have plantar fasciitis find relief when they use shoe inserts or orthotics.
Proper stretching of the foot is another key to reduced pain. Roll the bottoms of your feet with a frozen water bottle in the evening.
Do not alter your gait to compensate for the pain of plantar fasciitis, or you may compound your problem and cause other foot and leg issues.
Medical treatment for plantar fasciitis can include physical therapy, night splints, and medical orthotics. If the pain does not respond to these interventions, injectable steroids may help.
If these treatments do not improve your condition, your doctor may recommend minimally invasive surgery for plantar fasciitis.
Some clinics offer one of the most advanced minimally invasive surgical treatments in the industry, the Tenex procedure. This is a procedure that removes the painful scar tissue that may occur in chronic cases of plantar fasciitis or tendonitis such as Achilles or posterior tibial tendonitis.
The Tenex procedure is performed with a small incision, it doesn’t require stitches, and it leaves no scars. It takes less than 10 minutes to perform and requires no downtime from work.
3. Extensor Tendonitis
Tendons extend along the top of the foot, starting in the area of the shin muscle and splitting to each toe. Tendons are responsible for the movement of the entire foot, joining muscle to bone. The tendons in the foot help to straighten the toes and pull them up.
Inflamed tendons can cause pain that is difficult to distinguish from that of a stress fracture.
If you need a quick test to determine whether your pain is coming from a stress fracture or a tendon problem, have someone pull down on your toes as you try to lift them. If this hurts, you probably have a tendon problem.
Weakness or tightness in other parts of the feet and legs can cause tendonitis, as can poor-quality or worn-out running shoes. Tight shoes can also cause this problem.
You should regularly ice your tendons for pain relief and perform proper foot stretches.
The pain will increase with activity and decrease with rest. Proper rest and splinting are two possible treatments for extensor tendonitis. Also, stretch the calf muscles well to help with this problem.
4. Abductor Hallucis Pain
The abductor hallucis is a muscle that runs along the inside of the foot, on the arch. If you have arch pain, it is probably caused by your abductor hallucis muscle.
Abductor hallucis problems can also cause a runner to overpronate, or to roll their feet toward the inside. This can cause further problems due to gait.
Stretching and physical therapy are most commonly recommended for this problem.
Treat Your Foot Pain
As always, if you have any of these foot issues when you run, you should consult with a qualified podiatrist. A podiatrist can help you get back on the road and prevent future injuries.
Proper foot care will ensure that you can keep participating in your favorite sport for many years.