by Davy Kestens in Health + Nutrition, image by Matt

Common Causes of Foot Pain among Runners

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Runners spend a lot of time on their feet, and each one of us is likely to suffer from a foot problem at one time or another. Some of the conditions are minor, while others are fairly serious. The good news is, most of them can be prevented, or if you are unfortunate to have one, most can be easily treated.

Black toenails

This occurs when your toenail hits the end of the shoe or the top of the shoe. It causes your toe to bleed under the nail, and turns it black. If it hurts, you’ll want to go to the doctor so he can drain the blood. If it doesn’t hurt, you can leave it and your toenail will eventually fall off. It won’t be pretty, but it won’t cause any health issues.

Blisters

These often develop on the heel, side of the big toe, or between the toes, and are usually caused by shoes that don’t fit right or are brand new. If the blister isn’t causing a problem, you can leave it alone. But if it hurts or interferes with your running, you will need to “pop” the blister with a sterilized razor blade to get the fluid out.

Bunions

Cause the bone at the base of the big toe to stick out to the side, so your big toe leans toward your second toe. Improperly fitting shoes or wearing high heels is usually the culprit. Bunions can be painful, and your doctor may have to perform surgery to trim the bone. If it doesn’t bother you too much, you can use bunion pads or arch supports to take pressure off the ball of your big toe.

Bursitis

When you have pain under your three small toes, you have irritated the bursa. This usually occurs because you’re landing too hard on this part of your foot. You can try using metatarsal pads to correct the problem, but if the pain continues, you’ll need to see your doctor. An imbalance in your foot may need to be corrected with orthotics.

Hammertoes

If you have one or more toes that don’t stay straight, you have hammertoes. The tops and tips of your toes may hurt because of corns. The problem is usually caused by shoes that aren’t long enough. To help the pain, wrap your toes in lamb’s wool and wear shoes with a wider toe box. You can also have the joint in your toe surgically removed to flatten your toes.

Neuromas

When your nerve endings become inflamed, it causes burning between your toes. It’s a sharp, shooting pain, often accompanied by numbness. When the metatarsal bones are “loose” and move around, neuromas are often the result. When they flare up, ice the area. To try and prevent the pain, use metatarsal pads. If the pain continues, see your doctor.

Pain on the top of your foot

There are two types of injuries you may be suffering from: bruised or broken metatarsals, or a bone spur. A bruised or broken metatarsal will result in stabbing pain, and is usually caused by running long distances. There is no remedy except to stop running—you will need to be under a doctor’s care. A bone spur will be a bump on the top of your foot, caused by too much pressure on top of the foot. If you have a bone spur, you can wear larger shoes, not tie your shoes so tight, and put a pad around the spur.

Plantar faciitis

This is pain in the heel or arch. You usually feel the pain first thing in the morning or after you’ve been sitting for a long time. It can be caused by stride inefficiency, or when your weight doesn’t move correctly through your arch, and overstretches it. When you feel pain, ice the area. It will also help to stop your hill work and your speed work, stretch your calves well, and/or to wear arch supports, heel pads, or arch straps. If the pain persists, see your doctor. You should be able to correct the problem with orthotics.

These common running foot ailments don’t always have to stop you from enjoying the sport. Often you can wear properly fitting shoes and socks, replace your shoes when they are worn, and use correct running form to avoid them.




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