Are you running into pain when you go for a run? Up to half of runners experience an injury and up to 20% of those are to the foot and ankle. With over 40 million runners in the US alone, that’s a lot of foot and ankle injuries. Some of the most commonly reported running injuries include Achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and toenail injuries.
There are a lot of tendons in the body and the Achilles is your longest and strongest which means it’s also very susceptible to injury. Tendinopathy is an over-use injury that gets worse with time, which is why this injury often affects long-distance runners and veteran runners who have been at it for many years.
Any mechanical or structural issues that lead to increased strain on the hindfoot can affect the Achilles tendon and lead to tendinopathy. Pain from Achilles tendinopathy occurs in the heel where the Achilles attaches to the calcaneus. Patients describe a burning sensation that often gets worse with exercise. You may be at higher risk for Achilles tendinopathy if you overpronate, have increased speed or hill work, or wear inadequate footwear.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common running injuries because the plantar fascia is one of the structures holding up the arch. Without a strong plantar fascia, the arch will fall, leading to overpronation and further injury. Often affecting older and heavier runners, the condition is thought to be brought on and worsened by improper training or altered foot biomechanics.
Pain from plantar fasciitis is felt in the heel and bottom of the foot, usually after a long period of rest such as sleeping, leading to discomfort with your first steps in the morning. The pain subsides with increased movement.
Repeated pressure on the bones of the foot can lead to micro-cracks, also known as fractures. Stress fractures start small and grow over time if not treated properly and quickly. In runners, stress fractures occur for a variety of reasons. Too much training without proper recovery time, inadequately padded shoes, and even underlying biomechanical issues can all contribute to the formation of a stress fracture. Stress fractures most often occur in the metatarsal bones (the ones right behind your toes that extend into your midfoot.
Stress fractures present with general pain near the midfoot that becomes sharp when pressing in the area of the fracture. Time and pressure will only make the condition worse which is why it’s important to seek immediate treatment from your FAAWC provider and discontinue running until the fracture is healed.
The most common toenail injury in runners is a subungual hematoma or “jogger’s toenail”. Due to repeated trauma to the nail, blood pools underneath giving the appearance of a black toenail. Often this is accompanied by pressure as fluid builds beneath the nail.
These toenail injuries often occur due to improperly fitting shoes. A shoe that does not hold you steady at the midfoot will cause your foot to slide forward, repeatedly contacting the front of the shoe with your toenail. Shoes too small in the toe box can have the same effect. Without treatment, the toenail will continue to hurt and may even fall off, especially after a long-distance run such as a marathon.
While these injuries are only a handful of what runners could experience, they are very common and easy to avoid with the right preventative measures. Every prevention plan should start with a visit to your FAAWC provider who can help evaluate your risk, make shoe and exercise recommendations, or examine you for current injuries. Call FAAWC today at 740.363.4373Leave a reply