The human foot is one of the most complex and efficient structures in the entire human body — yet it’s also one of the most vulnerable. Walking, running, and jumping are just a few of the movements that require proper foot function. The foot’s 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments often work together to absorb shock, propel you forward during a run, and adapt to any type of terrain.
When one part of your foot comes into contact with the ground, it puts pressure on that spot. Muscles and bones need to be balanced for your foot to stay in the correct position. Weakness in the kinetic chain can cause injuries like ankle sprains, knee pain from runner’s knee, lower back discomfort, and misalignment of your body, leading to other injuries and more pain.
Millions of people suffer from chronic foot pain. Chronic foot pain is caused by the beating that feet endure on a daily basis. Pain in the lower extremity can be caused by various conditions, including but not limited to: plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, bunions, neuromas, hammertoes and stress fractures. Common causes of foot pain are excessive pronation, running too much in worn-out shoes and improperly fitted shoes.
SIX COMMON CAUSES OF FOOT INJURIES
Whether you train once a month or every day, if you don’t take care of your feet, you’ll likely experience an injury or pain. Foot problems are common among runners and often result from not wearing the right shoes, overtraining and repetitive stress injuries. Here are some of the most common foot issues runners face and their causes:
Plantar fasciitis causes a lot of pain. In fact, it’s one of the most common running-related injuries in the UK today. It can result from overuse or improper footwear and it usually appears as a sharp, stabbing heel pain during the first few steps in the morning. It can also cause pain on the bottom of the foot, make you feel like your arch is burning or even make it difficult to walk at times.
Morton’s neuroma is a chronic condition that affects the nerves in your foot. It occurs when the nerve tissue under the metatarsal bones thickens from irritation or compression, usually due to too-tight or high-heeled shoes. It pinches the nerve and leads to a burning sensation in the affected toes when that happens.
Sometimes, people who have Morton’s neuroma will also experience flat feet or a high arch. It is important to note that the cause of a Morton’s neuroma and flat feet are not always connected. Flat feet may cause shoes to overstretch and put pressure on your toes; while high arches can lead to an improper push-off when walking which could damage the nerve.
A stress fracture, more formally known as a hairline fracture, is a thin crack or severe bruising within the bone. A stress fracture can be caused by overuse, and in runners, it most commonly occurs in the shins and feet. Stress fractures are difficult to diagnose but appear on x-rays as thin lines without any surrounding damage.
This condition causes pain along the long bones of the foot, which can become inflamed due to excessive pressure and contact with the ground while running. You’ll need a pair of supportive shoes to take pressure off your feet and reduce inflammation in order to heal quickly.
Metatarsalgia symptoms include:
- Stabbing sensation in the ball of your foot.
- Pain and discomfort on arches.
- Tingling or numbness in your feet.
- Difficulty walking after a long run.
Achilles tendinitis is a common injury that can be very painful. It’s caused by over-exerting the Achilles tendon, the band of tissue that runs down the back of your lower leg and connects your calf muscles to your foot. Many people who play active sports — especially runners and football players — are especially prone, as they can strain it with an increased intensity or duration of their activity.
If you start to feel discomfort in the back of your leg or even above your heel, you might be suffering from Achilles tendinitis. This condition is characterised by pain, stiffness, and tenderness that movement can relieve. With some rest and easy-to-use home remedies like ice and anti-inflammatory medications, many sufferers will begin to recover from this condition within a few days.
A bunion is an awkwardly shaped bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe, when some of the bones in the front part of the foot move out of place. This condition is usually caused by tight-fitting shoes, which force your toes to bend and rub against each other. Whether they’re high heels or dress shoes, wearing tight shoes can affect your feet. By forcing your toes to crowd together, it may make them get used to being in this position, which causes bunions.
Severe bunions may require surgery as they will not go away on their own. Treatments to reduce pain include over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, reducing pressure from ill-fitting shoes and soft padding to help relieve pain and swelling.
If you are experiencing any problems with your feet, don’t hesitate to book an appointment. We’d be happy to assess your feet and help you deal with any issues that may be present.
*This blog contains general information about medical conditions and is not advice. You must not rely upon the information in this blog as medical advice. Medical advice should always be sought from an appropriately qualified podiatrist such as ourselves.