6 Common Foot Problems That Keep Runners from the Finish Line

Posted by Dr. Brian Nagy on May 26, 2017

race runner with injuryRunning is fantastic exercise. All you need is a good pair of shoes and the great outdoors. It burns plenty of calories, keeps you lean and promotes cardiovascular health. However, running puts a significant amount of strain and pressure on your feet, ankles, knees, and more. When you over train or don’t take care of your feet, foot problems like injuries are not only possible, but common.

If you're a runner, of any ability, and you experience pain in your feet or ankles, make sure to rest and to seek professional treatment with a trusted New Hampshire podiatrist for diagnosis and treatment. In many cases, getting medical treatment and taking a short time off from training will allow you to heal and avoid making your injury worse and having to give up running permanently.

1.  Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common conditions that affect runners. Caused by over training and tightness in the calves and Achilles tendon, plantar fasciitis is inflammation in the connective tissue that runs from the heel to the toes of the foot. The condition is characterized by a stabbing pain in the heels that is worse first thing in the morning or after long periods of rest. Plantar fasciitis is treated with rest, ice, custom shoe inserts, stretches, and physical therapy.

2.  Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis is a painful inflammation of the Achilles tendon in the ankle. The condition causes stiffness, tenderness and pain between the calf and the heel and can impede your activity. Achilles tendinitis is most often caused by a sudden increase in repetitive activity, like taking up running and increasing your distance too quickly. Treatment includes rest, custom orthotics, and physical therapy.

3.  Stress Fracture

Stress fractures are tiny cracks found in the bones of your feet which are caused by repetitive actions like running and can be aggravated by uneven or hard surfaces or being overweight. If you experience symptoms like swelling, bruising, and foot pain, you may have a stress fracture and should make an appointment to have your foot examined. If you do have a stress fracture, the best way to treat the injury it to take sufficient time to rest, apply ice, and use a compression sock or wrap to support the muscles and tendons of the foot while the bone knits.

4.  Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia, also sometimes diagnosed as Morton’s neuroma, is a condition that feels like you have pebbles embedded in your foot, typically between the second and third or third and fourth toes. This condition can also feel like severe bruising and is often caused by the excess pressure put on the metatarsal bones by the heavy and repetitive impacts of running. Metatarsalgia is usually treated with rest, ice, over-the-counter pain medication and custom orthotics.

5.  Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s neuroma is a condition where the tissue surrounding the nerves between your third and fourth metatarsal thicken and become fibrous. As the tissue thickens, it creates excessive pressure on the nerves and creates symptoms similar to metatarsalgia including pain, swelling, and feeling like there is a pebble or stone embedded in the ball of your foot. Morton’s neuroma is caused by the repetitive and intense pressure put on the foot while running. Wearing improperly fitting shoes can exacerbate the condition. Treatment typically involves rest, shoe inserts, stretching and physical therapy.

6.  Ingrown Toenails and other toe disorders

Runners are susceptible to ingrown toenails because of the constant, heavy pressure put on their toes while running. If the toenails are not trimmed properly or if your shoes are too tight in the toe box, you may be putting yourself at risk of developing this painful condition.

 

Runners may also develop subungual hematoma. Also known as runner’s toe, this condition is caused by downward pressure on the nailbed which leads to injury and bleeding resulting in the pooling of blood underneath the nail plate and a reddish-black discoloration.

Runners are also at risk of developing toenail fungus. The constant pressure on their toenails can create micro-injuries while hot, sweaty socks and sneakers are perfect breeding grounds for fungus. If the fungal bacteria can enter the nailbed though a micro-injury, the fungus will grow and spread resulting in thick, yellowed nails.

Running is excellent exercise, so you should take care of your feet so that you can continue to train and take care of your body. Keeping your toenails trimmed, stretching, and increasing the volume and intensity of your runs at a reasonable pace are great tips for preserving your feet.

Checking in with a trusted New Hampshire podiatrist at Nagy Footcare can also help to prevent injuries.

If you do injure yourself, experience foot problems or notice any discomfort or swelling in your feet, schedule a consultation for diagnosis. It's always better to get your feet, and overall health, checked out than to dismiss any lingering pain and ultimately end up with a more serious injury that could keep you off your feet for even longer.

At Nagy Footcare, our best day is the day you wake up with no foot pain.

5 Reasons Runner Shouldn't Ignore Their Foot Pain- eBook

Topics: Foot Problems, Running

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