If you’re an avid runner, foot problems might be a way of life for you. Jogging can be an exhilarating form of exercise, but it can come with a cost. You might have to deal with sores, painful arches, cramping, foot pain, and other issues on a regular basis. But you’re definitely not alone – millions of others have to do the same thing.
These are just a few of the common foot problems that affect the average runner.
This is one of the more common – and frustrating – foot problems that a runner will experience. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia becomes irritated. This is a band of tissue on the bottom of your feet that runs along the arches, connecting your heel with your toes. When irritation occurs, you may feel a stabbing pain in your heel or along the sole of your foot. Discomfort usually worsens when you stand for a long time, or when you walk up stairs. Foot pain in the arches can also become worse when you’ve been resting for a long time, such as when you get out of bed first thing in the morning.1
Other signs of plantar fasciitis include pain in your arches when you flex your feet and toes, and burning or tingling in your foot.2
If you’re a runner with metatarsalgia, you may feel a sensation like there are tiny rocks inside your shoes. Another common symptom of this uncomfortable condition is bruising on the balls of your feet. This happens when your metatarsal bones are under too much pressure. Your metatarsals are the five long bones that extend from the base of your toes to the middle portion of your feet. After running or jogging, a person with metatarsalgia may feel foot pain between the toes, or in the big toe. Symptoms may worsen after a particularly intense running session.
Morton’s neuroma is similar to metatarsalgia. Both conditions include pain in the toes, and both can make it feel like you have pebbles in your shoes. Morton’s neuroma occurs when the tissue around one of the nerves near your toes thickens. This leads to significant pain in the toes and the ball of the foot. Toes may also feel numb, or burn.4
A stress fracture can occur anywhere on your foot, and can be one of the more debilitating foot problems. It can affect your arches, toes, heels, or anywhere else. Jogging on a regular basis puts stress on the bones in your foot. This pain can gradually worsen until you can’t put any pressure on the affected area. Your foot may also be bruised and swollen, and the pain may worsen when you stand or walk. The discomfort will usually subside somewhat after a long period of rest.5
Stress fractures can be tricky to diagnose because they don’t always show up on regular X-rays. Your doctor may order a bone scan, or an MRI to find the problem.6
Foot cramps are among the most troublesome foot problems because they can be so unpredictable. A foot cramp can come out of nowhere, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. Cramping will often occur after running, and it usually affects the arches and toes. Cramps are typically harmless, but they can be a sign of muscle fatigue, dehydration, or even an illness. Other potential causes include nerve damage and certain underlying health conditions.7
If you have fallen arches, or high arches, you might be at a higher risk for Achilles tendonitis when running. This is a strain of the Achilles that results in tiny tears of the tendon, which is located close to the heel. Your arches can contribute to hyperpronation. This is when the ankle rolls inward, putting pressure on the Achilles tendon. Symptoms will usually include an aching or burning sensation near the heel, especially after exercise. In some cases, you may struggle to walk, or even stand. Some of the more common causes of this condition include not wearing the proper shoes when running, or running on very hard or slanted ground.8
Sores and blisters are also very common foot problems that affect runners. They occur due to too much friction between your skin and a sock or shoe. Sores can easily become infected, so don’t ignore them if they develop. If you have repeated problems with sores or blisters that don’t go away on their own, it’s time to talk to your doctor.
Wrapping it Up
Although you might be more prone to developing foot problems, including foot pain, if you’re a runner, you probably love this form of exercise more than any other. Even though foot problems are common, they don’t have to be inevitable. Talk to your foot doctor about ways to prevent issues, so you can continue running as long as possible.
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