Foot pain is common among runners and can be caused by a variety of factors. Due to the impact and intensity of the activity, running can put stress on different areas of the feet and cause many foot problems and sports-related injuries. Most running-related foot issues can be prevented or be treated at home with conservative options while others may require the help of a podiatrist.
Common Types of Running Foot Problems and Injuries
Approximately 50% of people who run sustain an injury each year. Most often, the injury is caused by overuse. Along with sprains and stress fractures to the feet and ankles, other types of foot problems include:
- Bunions. Bunions are bony protrusions that form inside the foot at the base of the big toe. Running in the wrong type of shoe can put pressure on the inside of the foot and cause a bunion to form.
- Corns. A corn is a small, hard lump that usually forms on the top or side of the toe. Corns usually develop from consistent rubbing, friction, and pressure on the skin, often caused by wearing shoes that are too tight.
- Black toenail. Wearing shoes that cause the toes to hit against the front of the shoe when running can cause blood to pool under the toenail and appear black. This condition can go away over time, or a podiatrist can drain the blood from beneath the nail.
- Plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain among runners. This condition occurs when the fascia that connects the heel and toes becomes inflamed. It can be caused by tight arches or calves or having flat feet.
- Shin splints. The term “shin splints” refers to a throbbing, aching pain along the front bone in the lower leg—also known as the shinbone. Shin splints occur when the tendons, bone tissue, and muscles in the leg are overworked and overused. This injury can happen to runners who change their running routine or intensify their workouts.
- Athlete’s foot. A fungal infection such as athlete’s foot can happen if you wear running shoes and/or socks that are damp and sweaty. It can also be picked up from a locker or shower room floor. Athlete’s foot can cause dry, peeling, itching, and burning skin.
- Blisters. Blisters can happen if your running shoe rubs against your heel or other part of your foot. If you develop a blister, keep the area covered and clean to prevent infection and to protect it while it heals.
Tips to Help Protect Your Feet When Running
If you are a runner, there are many ways to help protect your feet and avoid injuries, including:
- Footwear. One of the most important things a runner can do to protect their feet is to wear the right type of shoes. Wearing shoes that do not fit properly can lead to a variety of foot problems. Some researchers believe that a well-cushioned shoe can reduce the risk of injury because it absorbs and disperses the impact of the force generated when the foot hits the ground.
- Socks. Socks are worn to protect your feet from blisters and can wick-away moisture. Runners should choose socks that are lightweight and breathable.
- Stretching. Before running, it is important to stretch the muscles in your feet and legs. When you begin by stretching, you help prepare your muscles to flex, decreases muscle stiffness, and increase your range of motion.
- Rest. If you are extremely fatigued or experiencing pain in your feet and legs, give your body a break and rest. Your foot pain may subside after resting, and any mild injury you may have may diminish over time.
- Change your routine. Running on hard surfaces or at a high intensity can cause problems and pain in your feet. Changing your routine and running on a softer surface or at a lower intensity can often help.
- Consult with a podiatrist. See a podiatrist at the first sign of a foot problem. A small problem can develop into something bigger without proper treatment.
Contact a Podiatrist
If you are a runner and have questions about how to protect your feet or are experiencing pain in your feet while running, contact Capital Podiatry Associates for an evaluation. To schedule an appointment in our office or through telemedicine, call us, or fill out our convenient online contact form.