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I get foot pain after running, why?

A question we get asked a lot! Many runners suffer with post-run foot pain with many complaining of pain in the arch of the foot and/ or heel, around the toenails, or on the top of the foot. Here we take a look at these common complaints and take you through some possible causes and solutions for your foot pain.

Pain around the arch of foot and/ or heel

Do you feel a stabbing or burning pain in the arch of your foot? You may notice this when you first get out of bed in the morning. If so, you may have plantar fasciitis. This is typically caused by tight arches, tight calf muscles or overpronation and can be more common among runners with flat feet.

Try stretching your calf muscles, this will help relieve tightness around the calf and arch of the foot. You could also try rolling a tennis ball under the arch of your feet. Do this daily for around 30 minutes. You may feel some pain when you first start doing this but after around a week you should begin to notice an improvement. If you are not seeing any improvement in your condition after a couple of weeks of self-treatment, contact a professional podiatrist for further treatment and advice. Foot mobilisation works really well for patients suffering with plantar fasciitis, you may also benefit from an arch support orthotic to take the pressure off the plantar fascia.

Pain around the toenails

This is common in runners who are training for, or have just completed an event. Painful, blackened toenails are usually caused by the impact of the toe against the front of the running shoe. A common cause of this is wearing running shoes which do not fit correctly.

If you have a black toenail and the pain is manageable, it is best to just leave it alone. The damaged part of the nail is usually pushed off, this can take weeks or months - just leave it to do this on it's own, and a new nail will replace it.

If the toenail or area around the toenail is red or sore, consult a podiatrist. You could be suffering with an infection or the toenail may becoming ingrown. Your podiatrist will be able to examine the area and prescribe the most appropriate treatment.

To help prevent problems around the toenails, always visit a good running shop to have the fit of your running shoes checked. Your running shoes are usually around a half size larger than your everyday shoes, you should have plenty of room around the toe-box.

Pain at the top of the foot

Have you noticed a swelling on the top of your foot or along your tendon, or, do you suffer pain at the top of your foot as you are running? This can be a sign you are suffering with extensor tendonitis. Very tight calf muscles, over-training or a fallen foot arch could be the cause. You may also be lacing your shoes too tight or your shoes may just not fit correctly. If you do a lot of uphill running this could put a lot of stress on your foot extensor tendons, leading to inflammation.

Take a look at your running shoes, do they create a pressure point along the top of the foot? Try changing your shoe lace pattern of just simply loosening your laces a little. You could lace your shoes in a ladder pattern rather than a criss-cross pattern. Stretching your calf muscle will help with mild extensor tendonitis. You could reduce inflammation with ice and anti-inflammatory medication (seek advice from your GP or pharmacist). Take a rest from running until the tendon is no longer inflamed. If you do not notice any improvement in your condition, you podiatrist will be able to help. Foot mobilisation and/ or orthotics are both effective with this condition.

We see a great number of runners in our clinics with a wide range of foot concerns but these are our top three concerns seen on a regular basis. Don't let foot pain stop you from enjoying a great activity. If you find that self-treatment options are not providing you with any improvement, contact your podiatrist today to schedule a biomechanical assessment. For some runners we can find that their foot issues are caused by their non-running shoes so, during your assessment we look at both your everyday shoes as well as your running shoes and take the time to get to know you and your lifestyle to ensure we develop a treatment programme that will get you back on the road to great foot health and enjoying running again pain free as soon as possible.

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