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The Top of My Foot Hurts After Running

author image Melissa Sabo
Melissa Sabo is an occupational therapist who started writing professional guidebooks for all Flagship Rehabilitation employees in 2009. Specializing in applied therapy and exercise for non-medical readers, she also coauthored a manual on wheelchair positioning. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy.
The Top of My Foot Hurts After Running
The Top of My Foot Hurts After Running Photo Credit Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images

Running might be an effective way of keeping your heart healthy and your weight down, but it's not easy to do if you're suffering from pain. Because there are many factors that can cause pain across the top of your foot after running, you may need to see a physician to determine if you have a serious issue. However, if the pain isn't too severe, try a few at-home remedies before heading to the doctor.

RICE Your Foot

A do-it-yourself strategy, R-I-C-E stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation and is a commonly prescribed protocol for orthopedic injuries. If you are experiencing pain across the top of your foot when running, then you need to rest for a few days up to a few months until you are able to run without pain. Use ice for the first 24 hours after an injury, along with elevation, to help reduce swelling. You can also take over-the-counter NSAIDs to help with the pain and to reduce inflammation.

Consider walking or cycling or any other exercise that does not stimulate your pain, taking a few days off from running to let it heal. You may also benefit from a compression wrap bandage but should receive instruction from a health care professional on the proper technique for wrapping your ankle to prevent any unwanted side effects.

Extensor Tendonitis

Your ankle extensors move from the top of your foot up through the front of your lower leg and can be agitated when you are running. If you have pain across the top of your foot when you curl your toes, you may have extensor tendonitis. This often occurs when your calf muscle is too tight, placing stress on the tendons on the top of the foot. Aggressive calf stretching can help loosen the muscle and reduce the pain.

Examine your running shoes to make sure they are supportive and designed for running. You should always get fitted at a specialty running store, so you can be sure that you're wearing the right shoes for your feet and level of activity. Take care to ensure that your shoes are not laced too tightly, as this can cause inflammation across the tendons and result in tendinitis.

Stress Fracture

Stress fractures can happen when you run, especially if you are overweight, as your increased body mass places increased strain on your bones when you run. However, these fractures can happen to any runner, even if you have years of experience without a history of a stress fracture. If you experience pain repeatedly in the same place on your foot and the pain is exacerbated by running, you may have a stress fracture. Prolonged rest is the most important component of healing and you may need to refrain from running for several weeks to several months to recover.

When to See a Doctor

Any moderate to severe pain that limits your ability to walk may indicate a severe injury such as a fracture or tendon tear. See a physician immediately if you are experiencing these symptoms, especially if they persist even after you stop running. Your physician may recommend that you are splinted, casted, keep your weight off the injury or have surgery.

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