4 Common Foot Problems for Runners and How to Prevent Them

Running is an excellent form of exercise, but it can take its toll on your feet. Learn about common foot problems runners face and how to prevent them.

Running is a popular form of exercise because it’s a sport that requires minimal equipment (running shoes), and you can do it almost anywhere. But the heavy pounding takes a toll on your feet.

At Platte River Foot and Ankle Surgeons in Hastings, Gretna, Omaha, and Grand Island, Nebraska, our skilled podiatrists specialize in treating sports injuries in runners.

Here, we want to share some common foot problems runners face and what you can do to prevent them.

1. Inflammation of the plantar fascia

Inflammation of the plantar fascia, also called plantar fasciitis, is a common overuse injury in runners. The plantar fascia is a rubber band-like ligament on the bottom of your foot that connects the back of your heel to your toes. It supports motion and flexibility in the foot and works as a shock absorber.

Stress from running may cause tiny tears in the plantar fascia, leading to inflammation and stabbing heel pain. The pain is most severe in the first few steps you take when you wake up in the morning or after sitting for an extended period.

Fortunately, plantar fasciitis can be prevented. Wearing supportive, well-fitted running shoes and replacing them every 300 miles can help prevent plantar fasciitis. Using custom orthotics to provide additional support for your foot also helps. Furthermore, we recommend cross-training — swimming, biking, or strength training — to give your feet a rest.

2. Foot and shin stress fractures

Stress fractures are overuse injuries due to repetitive force on the bones, causing tiny cracks. Runners may develop stress fractures in the metatarsal bones — the long bones in the middle of the foot. This area of your foot helps you push off the ground when running, placing extra stress on the thin bones.

You may have pain and swelling in the foot with stress fractures that ease with rest.

To prevent stress fractures, ease into your running program. Exercise helps keep your bones strong, but when you do too much too soon, your bones may not have the time to repair and rebuild.

We also recommend wearing supportive running shoes and using custom orthotics when appropriate. Cross-training also helps prevent stress fractures.

3. Sesamoiditis

Sesamoiditis is inflammation of the tendons that surround the sesamoid bones, which are the bones that make up the ball of the foot. It’s an overuse injury that occurs when runners repeatedly engage in movements that place extra weight on the ball of the foot.

With this injury, you have gradual pain at the ball of the foot with swelling and bruising.

Wearing shoes that properly support the foot without cramping the toe box may prevent this runner’s foot problem. Custom orthotics that evenly distribute body weight are also recommended.

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) when you first experience pain and swelling may also provide relief.

4. Runner’s toe

Sometimes wrongly viewed as a badge of honor, a runner’s toe is a blackened toenail from bleeding or bruising of the nail bed under the toe. The trauma occurs from repetitive forceful contact of your toenail (usually of the big toe) with the front or side of your shoe.

You may not feel any pain with a runner’s toe. Still, suppose you continue to run with the injury. In that case, you may develop a blood blister that lifts and loosens the affected toenail, causing it to fall off.

You can avoid the runner’s toe by wearing proper-fitted running shoes and moisture-wicking socks and keeping your toenails trimmed. Custom orthotics or silicone toe pads are recommended for runners prone to this injury.

Running is a great cardiovascular workout but hard on the feet. If you’re a runner and have foot or ankle pain, don’t ignore it. Getting help prevents complications that may require a break from your running routine.

Call the office nearest you today or request an appointment with our sports injury experts online.

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