Foot Injuries In Runners From Overuse

Foot injuries in runners seem to go hand-in-hand (or should we say foot-in-foot). After all, the foot hits the ground with enormous force, as it supports the weight of the body. Studies show that running injuries tend to move along the “kinetic chain”. However, the specific location for an overuse injury is determined by a number of factors such as genetics, previous injuries, training factors etc. As such, there is not a firm overuse injury sequence that all runners will progress.

Common Foot Injuries In Runners

  • Plantar Fasciitis: Heel pain caused by inflammation and tearing of the tough fascial ligament on the bottom of the foot, usually right where it attaches into the heel bone. Learn more here.
  • Calcaneal Stress Fracture: An overuse fracture of the “heel bone.” Reduction of activity is needed to allow for healing.”
  • Achilles Tendon Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa located at the attachment of the Achilles tendon to the heel. Cortisone injections can be helpful, only if performed by a skilled Chiropodist.  Find one here.  A protective Achilles sleeve and examination by a foot specialist is also a must!  Find a foot specialist here.
  • Extensor Tendonitis: Inflammation of the tendons on the top of the foot, usually midway along the foot. Footwear, orthotics, rest and anti-inflammatories will likely resolve this pain.
  • Achilles Tendonitis: An inflammation of the Achilles tendon, at the back of your heel bone. A combination of footwear, a protective Achilles sleeve, orthotics, heel lifts, rest and anti-inflammatories will likely resolve this pain.  Learn more here.
  • Sesmoiditis: Inflammation of those tiny little free-floating “sesame seed” bones, which are located in the ball of the foot near the base of the big toe. Treatment is varied but targeted toward relieving the sesamoid bones of weight which would continue to irritate them.
  • Metatarsal Stress Fracture: An overuse fracture of one of the metatarsals. These are the long bones that start at the midway point of the foot and run right up to the base of the toes. There are 5 in each foot. Rest is crucial to allow for healing. Proper foot support via shoes or orthotics are important to prevent future fractures.
  • Posterior Tibialis Tendonitis: This tendon passes underneath the inside “ankle bone” and attaches into the medial aspect of the foot (navicular bone). Runners usually experience pain along the inner ankle or arch or slightly further along the inside of the foot. Footwear, orthotics, rest and anti-inflammatories will likely resolve this pain.  Learn more here.
  • Peroneal Tendonitis: This tendon passes under the outside “ankle bone” and attaches on the outside of the foot. Runners usually experience pain on the outside part of the ankle or outside edge of the foot. Footwear, orthotics, rest and anti-inflammatories will likely resolve this pain.
  • Shin Splints: This is pain that happens in the front or inside of the lower leg along the shin bone (tibia). Shin splints are common after changing your workout, such as running longer distances or increasing the number of days you run too quickly. People with flat feet are more likely to develop shin splints.  Learn more here.
  • Ankle Sprain/Strain: Common amongst supinators, this is the accidental stretching or tearing of ligaments or muscle tendons surrounding the ankle. This type of injury often happens when the foot twists or rolls inward and typically gets better with rest, ice, compression and elevating the foot. Assessment for treatment by a professional is crucial.  Learn more here.
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: This is a pinching of the nerves on the inside of the ankle, much like carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist. This type of pain is typically worsened with activity and almost all cases diagnosed were proceeded by trauma or strenuous activity. Conservative treatment is aimed at relieving the nerve pinching with shoes and orthotics. Surgery is only needed in extreme cases.
  • Blackened Toenail (Subungual Hematoma): If a runner is wearing a shoe that is too narrow or too short, that may cause a blood blister to form underneath the toenail. This will “scab” and appear as a blackened or discoloured nail. If more than 25% of the nail is involved, it needs to be assessed by a Chiropodist as infection is a serious risk.  Find one here.
  • Ingrowing Toenail (with/without infection): In runner’s with flat feet (low arches), pressure on the big toe in particular can cause the nail to grow into the surrounding soft tissue and become painful. Even worse, the nail border may become infected and require antibiotics and removal of the offending border by a Chiropodist. Find one here.
  • Big Toe Joint Injury: Runners may experience pain on toe-off in the big toe joint and this can be due to a bone spur, fracture, “joint jamming,” or arthritis. An orthotic can relieve pain and a rockered forefoot shoe sole may be a great option. Regular cortisone injections may also be necessary. However, if a fracture is present, at least 6 weeks of rest in a splint/walking cast may be required.
  • Swelling: Injury can lead to swelling, as can insufficient veins. While compression can help veins work more optimally, the cause for swelling must first be determined by a professional. Swelling related to injury can actually slow the healing process.

If you believe that one or more of the above conditions are preventing you from achieving your best on the trail or treadmill, seek relief today.

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