Most runners will find themselves side-lined with a foot ailment at some point. Anything from a simple blister to a more complex stress fracture can put a halt to training plans.
Most running injuries generally involve the lower body, including the knees, ankles, hips, groin, and legs, but it seems the feet take a significant hit compared to the other body parts.
Keep reading to learn more about the most common foot problems in runners, why they occur, how to identify them, and how to treat and prevent them.
What are the most common foot problems experienced by runners?
As any runner can attest, the feet take most of the heat when pounding the pavement. If you overtrain, ignore pain, or neglect preventative care, you may find yourself with one of the following foot problems experienced by runners.
Blisters may not be a serious injury, but they sure are painful.
Blisters are caused by excessive friction within the environment of the shoe due to excess wetness with sweat while the skin will soften, leaving high-pressure skin areas at risk. Be aware of any irritating seams, stitching, or enclosures that cause skin friction.
Some runners can experience toe rubbing against the front of the shoe if the shoes are too small or the foot is sliding forward, especially when running downhill.
This is common in runners training for long-distance events. When this happens, the nail is pushed down into the nail bed, becoming bruised and inflamed, often leading to loss of the nail.
The base of the big toe is home to the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, which bends each time you take a step. If this joint stiffens, running can be especially painful.
Experts call this hallux rigidus or “stiff big toe.” Arthritis of the big toe MTP joint can lead to hallux rigidus, and it may result from an injury to the toe or overuse.
Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that causes inflammation of the plantar fascia.
The plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone and extends across the bottom of the foot. With each step, it pulls on the heel, and significant repetition, such as with running, may cause it to become inflamed.
Plantar fasciitis is common in runners who have flat feet, but it can also be seen in runners with high arches. Plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury, caused by the stress a runner places on the feet.
Stress fractures can occur from overuse without enough time to heal. A stress fracture that’s not appropriately addressed can become a complete fracture where the bones break through and can displace.
Stress fractures typically occur:
- at the end of the metatarsals (long bones in the foot)
- at the base of the fifth metatarsal (pinky toe)
- in the bones of the ankle joint
Metatarsalgia is a painful irritation of the tissue, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints surrounding any of the five long metatarsal bones of the foot that connect or articulate with the toes (phalanges).
When this happens, the areas covering or surrounding the metatarsals can become irritated and inflamed after running. The cause is usually excessive contact with the ground while running, leading to the breakdown or trauma of the metatarsals.
A Morton’s neuroma is an inflammation of a nerve in the ball of the foot.
It is common in runners because of the repetitive pressure on the forefoot while running. The nerve gets trapped between the adjacent metatarsal bones and a ligament, which causes the nerve to swell, becoming inflamed and causing pain.
A Morton’s neuroma is common in runners with a high arch who strike the ground with their forefoot and runners who wear shoes that are too narrow. Narrow shoes add pressure on the nerve and increase the pain.
What’s the best way to diagnose and treat foot pain?
If you have consistent foot pain, the best thing to do is to see your Resonance Step + Stride Podiatrist. They can diagnose the problem and recommend treatment options.
Left untreated, many common foot problems can get worse, especially if you continue running while in pain.
If running injuries such as stress fractures, impingement, and tendonitis aren’t given a chance to heal, they can be worsened to the point where recovery with rest, immobilization, or physical therapy is no longer possible and surgery is required.
Call us today to resolve your foot pain.
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(09) 212 9612