There are a variety of painful foot problems caused by running. Depending on the underlying cause, the source of your pain might be a stress fracture to your foot bones or swollen and irritated tendons. Most problems cause pain, swelling and sometimes bruising. Running regularly, wearing inappropriate shoes and not taking time to recover between runs can increase your risk of experiencing foot problems.
Metatarsal Stress Fracture
A metatarsal stress fracture is a small crack in the long bones that run from the middle of your foot to your toes. These bones, called metatarsals, are more prone to fractures when you participate in repetitive high-impact exercises, such as running. When your bones do not have enough time to recover and produce new cells between runs, they become fatigued and develop stress fractures. Symptoms of metatarsal stress fractures include swelling and pain that becomes worse with each workout. You can reduce your risk of these stress fractures by wearing appropriate running shoes, gradually increasing your distance, eating well and cross-training.
Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of foot pain in runners that develops when the fascia at the bottom of your foot becomes inflamed. Your fascia is a ligament connecting your heel bone to your toes. It absorbs the shock of high-impact activities and supports your arch. When the force on your fascia becomes too high, it can develop tears and get irritated. You are more susceptible to plantar fasciitis as you age and if you have either a flat foot or high arch. You can reduce your risk by wearing running shoes with enough cushioning and replacing them when they become worn out.
Extensor tendinitis develops when the extensor tendons that run across the top of your foot become inflamed. You use these tendons to flex your toes up and can irritate them with excessive tension on the top of your foot. It is a common cause of foot pain for people involved in sports such as running and hiking because they sometimes lace their shoes too tightly. This creates tension by pushing the tendons into your lower foot bones. Symptoms include pain and swelling in your mid-foot.
In order to effectively treat your foot pain, you need to identify the cause. Many of the underlying causes for foot pain can be treated by taking time off from running and other high-impact activities, as well as changing your footwear. Other treatments include medication to relieve pain and inflammation, physical therapy, surgery, orthotics, splints and corticosteroid injections.