Do you know someone who is in training for the Houston marathon season? We all know running offers a lot of health benefits, from improved cardiovascular health and weight management to the prevention of bone and muscle loss. However, like any other activity that challenges the body, you must be in tune with what you are feeling and be proactive to keep minor issues from turning into big problems. How do you know the difference between a work-out induced ache and a foot condition that needs to be evaluated by a board certified Houston foot doctor? Here are some tips for running safely this season.
Below are common foot conditions you need to watch out for in this season:
- Heel pain
Heel pain is a foot condition that is common to athletes. There are 26 bones in the foot, and the heel bone is the largest. It provides support for the weight of the body. When you run, it absorbs much of the impact of the foot as it hits the ground and propels you forward into your next stride. Because of this, the back or bottom of the heel can be susceptible to common aches and pains.
The issue most frequently reported by runners is plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the ligament running along the arch of the foot. There are numerous causes, from poor running form, overpronation, or even wearing running shoes that do not provide enough support or have worn out.
If you’re experiencing heel pain, rest the foot, try stretching, apply ice to the affected area, wear shoes with good arch support and use oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. However, if these steps don’t provide relief, see a podiatrist for more effective treatment.
A neuroma is a foot condition that is very painful, affecting the ball of the foot between the third and fourth toes. It is also known as pinched nerve or tumor of the nerve tissue, because neuromas cause a thickening of the tissue around the nerves. It feels like a burning sensation or tingling between the toes and the ball of the foot. The formation of neuromas has been linked to the use of overly flexible shoes. It can be treated by wearing shoes with wider toe boxes, corticosteroid injections or surgery.
Tendonitis is another foot condition that can greatly affect a runner’s performance. It is caused by an inflammation of a tendon. The condition causes severe pain and tenderness, making it difficult to move the affected joint. Runners will typically experience achilles tendinitis, behind the heel and ankle. It can be treated with physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and inflammation and lots of rest. In a severe condition where the tendon ruptures, it may require surgical intervention.
- Bone Fractures
Bone fractures are common among athletes, including runners, due to the application of repetitive force. It’s often difficult for a runner to self-diagnose, especially when it comes to stress fractures. RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) treatment can also be administered to manage the symptoms. If you experience pain and swelling for more than 3-4 days, you should consult with a podiatrist for an x-ray and a full medical diagnosis.
While not all running injuries can be avoided, knowing about the causes of injury and training smart can help you eliminate some of the risk. Be aware of any changes in your feet, especially discomfort and pain, and allow for recovery when needed. Many runners are afraid of pausing their training regimen if they are preparing for an event, but nothing will derail your plans faster than an untreated injury that takes you out completely.
Athlete or not, if you’re experiencing pain of the foot or ankle, come see Dr. Maislos at Houston Foot and Ankle Care. We treat all types of foot issues, and work with you to get back to normal activities – or even extraordinary – activities. Call (713) 541-3199 to schedule an appointment.