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Causes of Foot Arch Pain While Running

James Roland
James Roland is the editor of a monthly health publication that has approximately 75,000 subscribers in the United States and Canada. Previously, he worked as a newspaper reporter and editor, covering issues ranging from the environment and government to family matters and education. He earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon.
Causes of Foot Arch Pain While Running
A woman jogging on a mountain road. Photo Credit John Lund/Blend Images/Getty Images

Foot arch pain while running often traces to plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia, a fibrous tissue, runs along the bottom of the foot from the heel to the toe. When it becomes injured, the result is significant arch pain. But other factors can cause your arches to hurt when you run. In many cases, choosing the right footwear, and adjusting your stride and training schedule, can resolve or prevent problems.

Don't Get Caught Flat-Footed

Having flat feet, known medically as over-pronation, puts you at higher risk for plantar fasciitis and other foot-related problems. Wearing high heels for many years can also put stress on the tendons in the foot and the plantar fascia. When the arch is stretched, which happens more with flat feet but can also happen with years of running and intense physical activity, the result is pain in the arch and often the heel as well. The Rothman Institute, a large medical practice in Philadelphia that specializes in orthopedics, notes that structural problems with the foot can cause arch pain.

What to Do

If plantar fasciitis is the problem, put your feet up and ice the specific areas of pain for about 20 minutes, three or four times per day. Avoid running for at least a few days if the pain is severe. For mild pain, reduce the distance you run until the pain subsides. To remain active while you let the plantar fasciitis heal, you can pick an exercise that doesn't put stress on the arches. Low-impact choices include bicycling and swimming.

Shoes and Arch Supports

Podiatrist-prescribed and fitted arch supports can help prevent pain and problems related to the arches when running, particularly if you have flat feet. A good running shoe can make a huge difference, especially if you're logging a lot of miles every week. A good running shoe is flexible at the ball of the foot, provides stability at middle of the foot, is solid and supportive at the heel, and has a sole with durable cushioning or shock absorption, notes t the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine.

Insoles and More

If your arch pain is mild or even if you don't have any problems yet, consider rubber insoles that provide a little arch support in your running shoes or other athletic shoes. Basketball, soccer and tennis certainly involve a lot of running, so making sure you have good arch support for those sports is important. Plantar fasciitis can lead to the formation of heel spurs, calcium build-ups around the heel that can be extremely painful. If you're starting to feel pain or you're just getting into running and you have concerns such as flat feet, talk to a podiatrist.

To Learn More

While you can't do much about flat feet or other structural issues with your feet, you can control your training patterns and your footwear. If you are serious about running, talk with a professional trainer or someone knowledgeable about running and injury prevention. On the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine website, board member Stephen Pribut says that the best way to avoid running injuries is to steer clear of the "Terrible twos: too much, too soon, too fast, too often."

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