It is only natural that you first learn how to run as a small child, then slowly improve your coordination and speed as you get older. After all, running is one of the world’s oldest activities. Early historical peoples ran out of necessity to hunt and bring back food. Nowadays people run because they want to—whether it’s to compete, stay in shape, or just for the joy of the sport. However, running injuries can create foot pain that leaves you on the sidelines.
The Effects of Pounding the Pavement
When you run, your feet repeatedly strike a hard surface, absorbing the impact and pushing off the ground again. This requires a lot of strength and flexibility. The lower limbs need to handle landing, distributing bodyweight and pressure through the foot, and then pushing off the ground again. This takes a toll over time. Overuse issues or poor biomechanics lead to problems, creating common runner injuries. Worn out gear, poorly-fitted shoes, and sudden increases in intensity or duration of your runs are typically what wear out your lower limbs and allow issues to develop.
Common Painful Problems
Any part of the foot can suffer from hard impact issues, but a few conditions are particularly common to runners. Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, shin splints, metatarsalgia, stress fractures, blisters, black toenails, and sprained ankles are among the most frequent lower limb complaints. Nearly all of these issues arise from the general wear and tear of training, particularly if your body isn’t sufficiently conditioned for your routine.
Plantar fasciitis, a type of heel pain, develops when repeated impacts strain the plantar fascia band in the sole of your foot. You feel a sharp ache under the bottom of your heel bone and into your arch. Achilles tendinitis is inflammation and thickening in your Achilles tendon, creating a different type of heel pain and causing discomfort and tightness behind your heel and in the back of the ankle. Shin splints are a painful burning in your shins that make it painful to flex your foot.
Metatarsalgia is an aching discomfort in the ball of your foot. It is caused by many things, including issues with the bones, nerves, or soft tissues. Stress fractures are thin cracks in a weight-bearing bone in your lower limbs. These develop into full breaks if they’re subjected to too much pressure. Blisters and black toenails are usually the result of shoes that don’t fit well. The repetitive rubbing and impaction against the sides of the feet and tips of the toes damage the skin and nails.
Ankle sprains are one of the few common runner injuries that are usually trauma-caused instead of being an overuse problem. A sudden misstep or trip can twist your foot incorrectly and damage the ligaments supporting your ankle joints. This can lead to chronically weak and unstable ankles if they don’t heal correctly.
Resolving Running Injuries
Any of these injuries can keep you from running because of the pain. Many of the issues worsen unless you take care of them, too. You need invested foot care to heal and get you back to your regular running routine stronger than ever. Dr. Jennifer Keller and Dr. Marshal Gwynn will examine your joints thoroughly to diagnose your conditions and catch any complications before they advance. This may include diagnostic images to determine the extent of your foot issues.
Specific treatment will depend on the individual condition. Most common runner injuries, however, heal best with rest and time off from running. Pushing through or continuing to run when you’re in pain is a great way to worsen a problem. Treatments may include immobilization, the RICE method, footwear changes, and physical therapy. You’ll need to recondition your lower limbs as you recover to be able to handle a return to running, too.
You don’t have to let injuries from running hold you back. Rather than wait until your pain is unbearable, take care of your feet and get back to doing what you love. See how Shenandoah Podiatry can keep you running healthily. Make an appointment through the website or by calling: (540) 904-1458.