Running is both great exercise and an extremely competitive sport, but in either case, it’s tough on the feet. Runners are all too familiar with blisters, callouses, and black or missing toenails. Pain can also be a sign of more serious problems with the incredibly complex mechanism that is the foot. A problem with a single tendon, bone or muscle can stop the most dedicated runner.
Podiatrists see three problems in particular that afflict runners.
Runners are usually all too familiar with the plantar fascia tendon running along the bottom of the foot. When injured from overuse, a runner feels a sharp, stabbing pain. At times, the pain will suddenly appear for no apparent reason. Plantar fasciitis can become chronic.
It’s important to try to identify the root cause, such as a shoe that doesn’t offer enough support. Using an insert or brace might help, as well as stretching exercises and rolling the foot on a tennis or golf ball.
Stress fractures occur most often in the metatarsals, but can be found in any bone. Fractures often slowly develop over time but eventually reach the point where a sharp pain is felt. It can be difficult to distinguish a stress fracture from plantar fasciitis without an MRI or bone scan.
When a runner is training harder or longer than previously, that increases the risk of a stress fracture. However, a simple misstep can also fracture a bone. Whatever the cause, it’s usually necessary to take about six weeks off so that the bone can heal and the pain is gone.
Inflamed tendons cause sharp pains similar to stress fractures. If the pain is felt when raising the toes against pressure, the issue is generally a tendon problem since the extensor tendons raise the toes.
Causes of extensor tendonitis include tight or weak calf muscles, poorly fitting shoes or a tight Achilles. Icing can help reduce the inflammation temporarily. Wearing shoes that offer sufficient support, possibly with an insert, is necessary. Don’t neglect calf stretching exercises.
If the pain is keeping you from running, visit the Foot & Ankle Specialists of NJ for proper diagnosis and treatment. Podiatrists have the necessary training and experience to effectively treat the problem and get you back to running as soon as possible. Delayed treatment could make the issue worse. Visit the website to request an appointment. You can also follow them on Twitter for more updates.