Running and Foot Pain

 

Running is an incredibly popular sport due to the fact that it is such a natural movement and requires little equipment. Unfortunately, running and foot pain seem to go hand in hand since the feet play an integral part in this activity—up to 15% of all running injuries occur in the foot. Most injuries from running are caused by overuse or bad habits and develop over time until the pain becomes severe enough to interrupt activity. It’s best to deal with running and foot pain by addressing issue as soon as they arise.

Here are a few of the most common culprits when it comes to foot pain caused by running:

Plantar Fasciitis: Plantar fasciitis develops when the plantar tendon (which runs the length of the foot from toes to heel via the sole of the foot) becomes inflamed or develops small tears along its length. It is one of the primary injuries and at least 10% of runners deal with it every year. Symptoms usually include heel pain that is most acute first thing in the morning and a bruised feeling in the heel of the foot.

Achilles Tendinitis: Achilles tendonitis causes foot pain when the tendon that connects the calf muscles to the back of the heel is placed under too much pressure, causing it to tighten up and become irritated and/or inflamed.

Stress Fractures: Stress fractures occur in the feet from force of impact, repetitive impact, and improper foot striking, which can lead to unorthodox landing patterns. Stress fractures are a common cause of running and foot pain and need to be treated by a medical professional.

Blisters and Calluses: Painful skin abrasions and growths often occur on the feet of runners due to friction and pressure imbalances. Any developments of this type should be treated immediately to prevent further discomfort or infection or debilitation.

Prevention

Current discomfort caused by running and foot pain should be treated immediately, and steps can be taken to prevent foot pain from returning:

  1.  If you find that you often suffer from plantar fasciitis or stress fractures consult your doctor or a podiatrist to have your gait analyzed; you may be over or under pronating, which causes pain and injury in the feet and body.
  2. Purchase sneakers designed specifically for running and change them often—old shoes often lead to foot pain and injury.
  3. Increase frequency and intensity of training gradually over time—sudden changes in training habits are frequently the cause of running and foot pain.
  4. Strengthen your core—your core is a major factor in strength and stability (and therefore injury prevention).
  5. Make sure that you warm up thoroughly before pushing yourself in your run.
  6. Cool down after an intense run.
  7. Stretch after running: This step is absolutely essential. Tight calf and/or hamstring muscles lead to foot pain, so by keeping muscles pliant and flexible you will be avoiding a world of hurt and missed time on the track due to pain and injury.

Running and foot pain needn’t be synonymous; by treating injuries as soon as they occur and by taking steps to avoid problems in the first place you can continue your favorite activity pain-free.

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