Look below for the five of the most common foot- and ankle-related running injuries, as well as prevention and possible treatment tips for each.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a fibrous band of tissue in the bottom of the foot that extends from the heel bone to the toes. This tissue can become inflamed for many reasons, most commonly from irritation by placing too much stress (excess running and jumping) on the bottom of the foot.
Stretching both before and after every run. Proper stretching is gentle and should not be painful. Wearing supportive running shoes that are appropriate for your foot type, as well as shoe inserts, can also be effective. Make sure to not over-train, gradually increasing how long or far you run.
Immediate treatments should include icing the area to help with inflammation (several times per day if possible), stretching, and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication and resting (refraining from running). For further protection, taping, custom foot orthotics, and the use of a night splint may be recommended by your podiatrist.
An ailment that accounts for a large number of running injuries, Achilles tendonitis is an irritation or inflammation of the large tendon in the back of the lower calf that attaches to the back of the heel. The condition is often caused by lack of flexibility and excessive pronation.
Stretching regularly. Custom orthotics to correct faulty foot mechanics that can lead to this injury.
Ice and anti-inflammatory medications can be taken in the short term. Resting the affected limb is vital for quick recovery. Orthotic therapy to address the biomechanical cause of the injury. A podiatrist may recommend immobilisation in more severe cases (such as a walking boot) to allow the area to heal faster.
Morton's neuroma is often described by runners as a burning, stinging pain in the forefoot (commonly in the third and fourth toes). Other symptoms include pain in the ball of the foot and a feeling of "pins and needles" and numbness in the toes. Runners who wear tight-fitting footwear often experience this condition. A true neuroma is a benign tumor of the nerve, although entrapment of the nerve will give the same symptoms.
Wearing proper running shoes that fit well and have a roomy toe box, and do not lace shoes too tightly in the forefoot. Runners should wear shoes that feature adequate forefoot cushioning, and fit shoes with running-appropriate socks (those with a poly-cotton blend).
A professional gait analysis, paired with customised foot orthotics, can often prevent the neuroma of being aggravated and the condition from reoccurring. Occasionally, surgical removal of the neuroma is necessary.
Stress fractures in the lower limbs are common among athletes in general and are commonly caused by repetitive forces on these areas. Symptoms include localized pain and swelling that grows worse over time. Stress fractures can occur over a period of days, weeks, or even months.
Modifying running equipment or training regimens. Replace running shoes on a regular basis (about every 600–800 km), and see your podiatrist when pain is first noticed.
Stress fractures are like any other fracture in the body and require eight to 10 weeks to heal completely. Treatments may include complete rest and icing, immobilisation using casting or bracing of the affected area.
Also referred to as "tibial stress syndrome," shin splints affect runners of all ages and are commonly experienced as a shooting pain felt near the front or sides of one or both tibia bones (the shins).
Performing stretches such as toe raises and shin stretches, and replacing running footwear often.
Shin splints can be treated immediately with ice and anti-inflammatory medications. A podiatrist may also recommend a physical therapy program, as well as testing to determine if prescription orthotic could prevent further injury.