Solve foot pain before it sidelines you

Female runner with twisted ankle
Don't ignore foot pain or it will snowball into a bigger problem. (

Now that everyone is ramping up for half marathon and marathon training season, injuries and aches and pains are starting to crop up. The miles are slowly increasing and this means that so is the pain. Sometimes running can be a real pain in the foot, knee, hip pain or back.

Many people will try to ignore the pain until it stops them from running. Others will stop running for a few days thinking that it will go away; or, slow down or change how they run to eliminate the pain.  One thing for sure is that if you do not address the issue as you feel it, and by address it I mean treat it, not just stop running, then the problem can snowball into something much worse that can possibly take you out of the big race you are investing so much time training for.

For runners, it is inevitable that at some time or other they will develop foot pain. The pain can be on the bottom or on the top or even on the sides, and can be from a number of different things. Where the pain is felt and the type of pain that it is, will determine what needs to be done in order to treat it. 

The shoe does matter

When it comes to foot pain, it is imperative that you take a long hard look at when the last time was you purchased new running shoes and when was the last time that you were fitted properly for those shoes.  It is easy to lose track of how many miles your shoes have on them as you increase your miles gradually, but not having the correct foot wear can be the source of any type of foot pain. The shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles.  If you are prone to injury and soreness then you want to replace them closer to the 300 mark than the 500 mark. 

Don’t adjust how you run

The next thing that you need to pay attention to is that you are not adjusting your running in any way.  Most commonly when people begin to feel pain in their feet, they will adjust the way they run and many times they don’t even know it.  And this is when you can develop pain in the ankle, hip, knee, and back. It is important to pay attention to the fact that the foot still hits the ground the way it was before you felt the pain. If you are changing how the foot hits the ground then it is better to stop running rather than changing your pace or changing how the foot hits the ground.

Massage and stretch your feet

Massage and stretching your feet can help with the pain and help you identify problem areas. First, relax the foot. You can do this by crossing the ankle over the knee and letting the foot hang there. Then take your thumbs and using lotion, rub in between each bone in the foot.  Push as hard as you can tolerate.  Next, go onto the bottom of the foot and do the same thing but start at the heel, stroking up towards the toes, push as hard as you can.  If you find a spot that hurts, stop and push on that spot for about 30 seconds and then move on.  If there is pain when you push, then that is an indication that there is dysfunction going on which can snowball into a bigger problem. Make sure you get your foot evaluated and treated.

Follow this massage technique up with the exercises that are shown in the video. The first is a stretch for the bottom of your foot. You want to do this gently, not to pain. This is best done without shoes on but can also work with them on. 

The next exercise shown is another way to do the massage using an object. Using your fingers is the best way to get into the muscles but you can follow that up with a hard ball.  The ball shown in the video is a beastie ball, but using any ball in absence of a beastie ball will help provide some relief. This can be done several times a day while sitting at your desk. 

Finally there is a stretch for the front of the foot. This stretch will allow you to stretch out the muscles you just worked on the top of the foot and the shin. Again this stretch is best done without your shoes on to get the best stretch. You can feel this stretch all the way up to the knee or you will just feel it in your foot, either way you should not feel any pain. You should just feel stretching. 

Ignoring foot pain or trying to work around it will only cause you more problems down the road.  It can lead to injuries where you are unable to compete in the race you are training for or worse it can cause pain in other joints like the knee, the hip and the back. Making sure that you solve the problem early is the best way to ensure you toe the line of the race.  

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.

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