Overcoming Some Common Foot Injuries

Frequent and consistent running is one of the best, and most frugal, ways to stay physically and mentally healthy. Running is a great way to avoid weight gain, reduce the risk of some chronic illnesses, release endorphins (natural morphine), and get outside. 

But running is hard on your feet, so there is a risk of injury. Fortunately, most of these potential injuries are rather mild, and the only real danger is a failure to recognize them and keep them from turning into something worse. Don’t miss this quick run-down of some common fitness foot injuries, and what to do about them. 

Plantar Fasciitis 

This condition can be incredibly painful, especially in the morning. Most people experience a dull or stabbing pain in the bottom of their foot arch near their heels. After the body warms up, the pain often subsides, so many people stop worrying about their feet. But plantar fasciitis, which is basically just inflammation, does not go away on its own. 

Typically, the problem is not caused by the foot but rather the leg. Overly tight calf and hamstring muscles create strain on the plantar fascia tissue in the feet, and they are not designed to take this added pressure. To treat this condition, be sure to stretch your legs daily, and stay off the foot as much as possible until the inflammation (pain) subsides. 

Achilles Tendinitis 

Although the injury occurs in a different area (that big tendon on the back of your foot), the causes and solutions are very similar to the issues discussed above. 

The body is a carefully balanced machine, and if one part works too hard, another part pays the price. If your leg muscles are stiff or underdeveloped, the Achilles tendon works too hard and becomes inflamed. Take care of any tendinitis injuries straightaway, because these tendons will rupture if the pressure continues. 

Stress Fracture 

Overuse combined with poor technique usually causes these small, hairline fractures in foot or ankle bones. These injuries do not require the same degree of care as complete fractures, but they are often every bit as painful. If you suspect a stress fracture, you probably need an X-ray to confirm your self-diagnosis. 

These small cracks usually heal on their own with rest; a foot or ankle brace or boot often hastens the process. Once the injured foot or ankle looks, acts, and feels exactly like the uninjured one, the stress fracture has healed. 

To prevent these injuries, avoid sudden upticks in your fitness routine and adjust your running gait to have more footfalls per minute. 

Ankle Sprains 

These injuries are more common among athletes who change direction quickly, but they also occur when runners step awkwardly off curbs in the predawn hours and in other such situations. Slightly hyperextended ankles (twisted ankles) are usually not a big deal, but if the ankle becomes swollen and stiff, the muscle is probably sprained. Use the RICE method to treat sprained ankles: 

Rest: Stay off the ankle as much as possible and use crutches if you must move around. To keep the injury from completely derailing your fitness routine, swim, cycle, or participate in other cross-training exercises until the ankle heals. 

Ice: Twenty minutes of cold therapy at a time reduces inflammation and relieves discomfort; if the foot starts turning white, you are icing it too much. A specially-designed ice pack is the best way to ice your foot injuries. 

Compression: PT tape or an Ace bandage supports the area while the muscles heal and also decreases swelling. Similar to the icing, a specially-designed ankle or foot brace is even better than tape. 

Elevation: Several hours of elevation a day should reduce swelling and prevent bruising. But do not keep it elevated too much, because that will impair blood circulation and slow the healing process. 

Avoid using pain-masking painkillers aside from over-the-counter analgesics, because such medicine relieves pain so well that it is almost impossible to tell when the ankle is better. 

To keep with your fitness routine, it’s important to have an injury prevention and recovery plan.

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I hope you enjoyed this article about how to overcome some common foot injuries to decrease reductions in performance.

Interested in more articles about frugal sports medicine? 

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