Attention Runners: Prevent & Treat Foot Injuries

As an athlete and runner, the word “injury” is a dreaded word. If you have been training tirelessly for the upcoming Baltimore Running Festival, whether you are running the full marathon, half marathon, relay, or 5K, you’ve no doubt put in a lot of time and effort. You are nearing a huge accomplishment and you definitely don’t want an injury to interfere with reaching your goal. Knowing your body and the difference between various pain levels is equally important in preparation for any race, and when lined up at the start this Saturday.

Most common running injuries occur due to overuse, overtraining, improper nutrition, and/or a flaw in body structure and motion. Runners do not want to stop running when they are injured, and staying on a rigid training schedule is the key to successful preparation for most. If an injury becomes painful enough where it effects your stride or pace, it is important to take it easy, see a doctor, and listen to your body.

The week leading up to race day is full of mixed emotions, as you may feel: nervous, excited, anxious, and scared all wrapped into one. You may be “carb-loading”, taking on easier runs, and hydrating to the fullest, all the while making sure you don’t get injured in the last few days of training. Here is a list of the five most common running injuries to your feet, how you can prevent them, and if injured, how to treat:

Stress Fractures
Symptoms:
Tenderness of a bone in your foot without warning and/or explanation. If the pain does not go away or get better over a run or days of rest, you need to see a doctor.

Cause: Overtraining, shortage of calcium, running style or body structure.
Prevent: Be cautious of overtraining and be sure to ice on rest days. Don’t forget to set aside rest days! Avoid switching quickly to hard surfaces and ease into your training regimen.
Treat: Because ceasing exercise is almost impossible for most runners, running in a pool can keep you on your training schedule while reducing pressure on your stress fracture.

Shin Splints
Symptoms:
Pain in the mid section, front of the outer leg.

Cause: Flaw in your foot movement that can be made worse by improper shoe support, and overtraining.
Prevent: Switch to a thicker shoe and/or focus on motion control.
Treat: Stretch by standing with your feet two to three feet away from the wall and place one foot behind the other and one bent with your hands touching the wall. Point your toes forward with your heels on the ground. Hold for 10 seconds each stretch, ten times on each leg.

Plantar Fasciitis
Symptoms:
Sharp pains in the arch or heel of your foot.

Cause: Inflammation of the ligament along the bottom of your foot, abnormal motion of the foot, or a tight calf muscle.
Prevent: Calf stretches before and after running.
Treat: Stretching for minor injuries but others may require a doctors visit.

Blisters
Symptoms:
Soreness and fluid under the skin.

Cause: Friction combined with excess moisture.
Prevent: Synthetic socks that wick away moisture.
Treat: Band-Aids, rest, and antibiotic ointment.

Achilles Tendinitis
Symptoms:
Tightening and/or soreness of the achilles tendon.

Cause: Chronic overuse, abnormal foot stroke in pushing off, and tight calf muscles.
Prevent: Same stretch as used for shin splints before and after running.
Treat: Correcting foot stroke and pronation angle of your foot by seeing a doctor.

Having ran many races myself, it is always important to focus on not altering anything on race day; stick to your routine. This applies to: nutrition, clothing, shoes, accessories, and anything else involved in your running routine. Injuries can be emotionally devastating for a runner, but listening to your body and seeking help when needed is key to a quick recovery and a better running experience. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to give me a call. As the Baltimore area provider of the Pinpointe Footlaser, a certified podiatric surgeon, and an avid runner, I can help answer your questions and treat you accordingly when it comes to any of your foot ailments.

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