Soreness, pain or tightness in your foot arch during or after a run is something most runners will face at some point during their life. But if you’re tempted to drop a couple of ibuprofen and carry on training, you might want to think again.
There are multiples of your body weight going through your feet – if you’re jogging it might be 2-3 times your body weight but if you’re sprinting it could be 6-7. When your foot strikes the ground your arch will start to drop – it’s part of the shock absorbency process and that is entirely normal – but in certain circumstances it is so rapid and forceful that the tissues designed to control that movement can’t cope. That’s when the problems can start. Over training and increased load are usually to blame, although sometimes there can be other biomechanical issues which may be helped with the use of an orthotic.
A couple of the common causes of arch pain and how to treat them. Your arch education and recovery starts here…
Plantar fasciitis/plantar heel pain
The plantar fascia runs from the heel bone and fans out into the base of the toes and helps support the arch. When the fascia has been irritated or struggling with the job it is trying to do you can get pain – usually in the heel but sometimes in the arch, too. Plantar fasciitis will often present as ‘first step pain’ so you might be pain free while running but when you step out of bed the following day, it can be agony.
In the majority of cases it’s an imbalance between the forces we are subjecting our body to and what the body is able to take at that particular time. We often see it in those new to running, or runners who have dramatically increased their mileage.
Tendonitis, sometimes referred to as tendinopathy, is a catch-all term for any inflamed tendon or tendon sheath. For runners, a commonly affected tendon is the tibialis posterior tendon, which runs from deep in the muscle in your calf, around your medial malleolus and attaches to a bone called the navicular – known as the keystone of the arch – and under the arch of the foot. The tibialis anterior tendon, which runs from a muscle in the front of your leg and connects to the top of the arch in the same area on the navicular can also be irritated and overworked in runners.
It usually comes down to the body’s ability to control the force that is being put through the foot and control the rate that the foot absorbs that force. Pronation is often thought of as bad but it is essential and without it we would be unable to run.’ The posterior tibialis along with many other tissues help to control the rate of pronation as the arch of the foot drops when the foot moves over the ground. ‘If the work being required of those tissues is more than they are able to successfully control, it is likely the runner will experience discomfort on the inside of the ankle and into the foot.
A cavus foot or high arched foot
In the case of extreme high arch (known as cavus foot), it can be caused by neurological conditions like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy; in milder cases it is often an inherited foot shape.
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