Runners who experience pain along the bottoms of their feet may be suffering from a number of conditions. Pain can affect the ball of the foot, the arch, the heel and the big toe. Understanding the causes of underside foot pain can help you make an informed decision on how to treat and prevent future pain while running.
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Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common conditions causing pain in the bottoms of runners' feet. Pain is prevalent from the front of the heel and along the arch, and is typically most acute first thing in the morning or when you get up after sitting for a while. Fascia connect the heel bone to the ball of the foot; plantar fasciitis results when the fascia becomes overstretched due to improper weight distribution from the heel to the ball. In extreme cases, the arch loses total flexibility.
Heel spurs occur when the fascia becomes strained near the heel, with pain typically centered near the front of the heel. Spurs form when the fascia is torn off the heel bone and resulting blood calcifies into sharp growths on the bone. The pain comes not from the spurs but from the injured fascia nearby.
Apophycitis is a condition that affects the heel and is typically experienced by runners under age 20. Throughout childhood and the teenage years, the heel bone is separated in two parts, eventually fusing after adolescence. Heavy running can cause both parts to separate even more, causing pain in the bottom and back of the heel.
Small bones located under the ball of your big toe, where the toe connects to the foot, sometimes get bruised by heavy running. Pressing on the head of the toe will produce significant pain in these bones and indicates that you've probably been running on the balls of your feet, or that you've been running too much on hard pavement.
A range of treatments, shoe options, and other preventative measures can help heal and ward off pain in the bottom of the foot. Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs can be effectively treated by finding running shoes with good midfoot stability. Stretching the band of tissue between the ball and heel is another approach: calf stretches are one version, while rolling your foot over a golf ball is another. Loosening the tissue is the ultimate goal. When experiencing pain during running, immediately ice the affected area after running. Anti-inflammatories can additionally relieve pain, and arch straps can keep the fascia extended throughout a night of sleeping. Last but not least, see a doctor or foot specialist of pain persists.