In the United States, more than 19 million people choose to run every single year. Unfortunately, many runners face injuries throughout their careers.
With that being said, what types of injuries should you be on the lookout for if you are one of the millions that enjoy running?
For runners looking to stay informed, here are the most common foot injuries from running long distances.
If your arch of foot hurts when running, you may have plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a tough band of tissue that connects the front of your foot and heel. It supports the arch of your foot and acts as a shock absorber during impact activity.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when excessive pressure on your feet damages or tears the tissue. The inflamed plantar fascia causes stiffness and heel pain.
You may have plantar fasciitis if you have symptoms like:
- Sharp or dull pain at the bottom of the heel
- Pain with first steps out of bed or after being seated for a prolonged period
- Increased pain after prolonged activity
- Pain develops gradually over time
Runners between the ages of forty and seventy are at the highest risk for getting plantar fasciitis. Those with very flat feet or very high arches may also be at a higher risk for plantar fasciitis.
If you suspect you have plantar fasciitis, it's important to see an orthopedic specialist right away.
If you experience sharp pain in foot after running, you may have a stress fracture.
A stress fracture occurs when a severe bruise or small crack occurs within the bone. It often occurs with repetitive impact activity in bones that absorb the stress, like the foot.
The second and third metatarsals are most commonly injured due to the thin nature of the bones. A stress fracture from running also often occurs in the top of the mid-foot, ankle bones, and heel.
Common symptoms of a stress fracture include:
Bones naturally form new bones to replace the old. If the breakdown of existing bone occurs faster than the new bone can form, a stress fracture will likely form.
If you are a female runner with inconsistent or absent menstrual periods, you could be at higher risk for a stress fracture. If you have a history of osteoporosis or have a lack of Vitamin D or Calcium in your diet, you are also at a higher risk.
Try changing up the surface you run on to gravel or dirt instead of concrete to reduce your chances or a stress fracture. Don't forget to replace old footwear often.
If you suspect you have a stress fracture, see an orthopedic specialist right away. They will do a physical examination and an MRI, x-ray, or bone scan to confirm the type of fracture you may have.
Remember to rest your injury and allow time for your bone to heal. Consider icing, compressing, and elevating the affected area.
Tendonitis occurs when a tendon is inflamed or irritated. Tendons are thick cords that attach a muscle to a bone. Tendonitis commonly occurs in long-distance runners.
You may have tendonitis if you're experiencing symptoms like:
- Mild swelling
- Dull ache in joint
Tendonitis often occurs in athletes who perform repetitive sports motions. As you get older and less flexible, you're at a higher risk of developing tendonitis.
Remember to take time after your run to stretch in order to improve the range of motion of your joints and reduce repetitive trauma.
Don't forget to mix up your training plan. Try incorporating cross-training like swimming and biking throughout the week. Consider strengthening your muscles by lifting weights and working with resistance bands.
Athlete's foot occurs in runners whose feet become sweaty in tight-fitting shoes. It is a fungal infection that most commonly starts between the toes.
You may have Athlete's foot if you have symptoms such as:
- Visible red, scaly rash
- Blisters or ulcers
Athlete's foot is contagious. It can be spread through other surfaces like clothing, towels, and floors. You might be at a higher risk if you are frequently in a community locker room.
This condition commonly occurs in warm, humid conditions where the fungus has a perfect environment to grow.
Remember to keep your feet dry, change socks regularly, and do not share your shoes with other runners.
If your symptoms persist or worsen after two weeks, you need to see a medical care professional for additional treatment.
An ingrown toenail occurs when the corners or edges of the nail grows into the skin adjacent to the nail. They often occur in long-distance runners due to shoes placing pressure on the big toe.
Ingrown toenails can be very painful and worsen with time. Watch out for symptoms on your toes such as:
- Red, swollen skin
- Oozing pus
- Overgrown skin
Treat your ingrown toenail at home by soaking the affected area in warm water for fifteen to twenty minutes three to four times a day. Push the skin away from the affected toenail.
Remember to apply a topical antibiotic to combat the infection. Try over-the-counter pain relievers for any discomfort.
Left untreated, an ingrown toenail may require surgery to remove.
Foot Injuries from Running
Running should be a positive experience. Don't let foot injuries from running get your down. Be prepared for whatever comes your way and do your research ahead of time. Always consult a medical care professional if your symptoms worsen or persist.
Remember to follow your doctor's plan of action to a tee to heal and get back out running as soon as possible.
What are you waiting for? The trails await!
If you need help with foot pain, contact our New York office today.