Foot Health

Running and foot injuries

Running is one of the most popular and enjoyable exercises, especially when you have the awesome views of the beaches and nature when running outdoors. Whether you run outdoors or indoor on a treadmill or other instrument, running is an excellent form of exercise for your heart and your whole body, however it can put considerable stress and pounding on your feet. The following are some common foot injuries, how to prevent them and what to do about them if they occur.   

Leg injuries

Shin splints are perhaps the most common running injury to the lower leg. The shin bone is the large bone in front of the lower leg where the muscles attached bring the foot up and down. The pain appears at the front and inside of the leg, and is caused by inflammation from running on hard surfaces, over-striding, muscle imbalance, or overuse. To treat shin pain place cold compresses on the area immediately after working out to reduce inflammation. Proper stretching before the workout should prevent the onset of shin splints as well as modifying your running technique or orthotics in your shoes. Stretching and strengthening the muscles also help reduce shin splints.

Stress fractures often occur from overtraining. Stress fractures are seen in long distance runners and are more common in women. To treat a stress fracture, you must stop the activity and rest. To prevent it, make sure you gradually increase your running distance and intensity and have an adequate dietary intake of all nutrients, especially calcium.

Ankle injuries

Ankle sprains are common injuries in runners. It is caused by twisting the ankle or foot, damaging the ligaments around the ankle. They can swell and be very painful. It is important for the runner to recognize the injury, decrease or stop their running to speed up treatment and recovery.

Achilles tendonitis. The Achilles tendon is the large tendon in the back of the ankle. Inflammation of the achilles tendon results in pain and swelling behind the heel. This makes running and exercise very painful. Stretching the calf muscles gently and gradually before and after the workout will help alleviate the pain and tightness. Soaking in cool water or an ice pack to the area can also help.

Foot injuries

Plantar fasciitis (arch pain) is often caused by frequent stress on the plantar fascia on the bottom of the feet. When this supportive, fibrous band of tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot, becomes injured, it causes pain on the bottom of the foot. Overtraining can put a lot of stress on the foot and lead to pain. Shoes with good mid-foot support and stability along with stretching may help prevent plantar fasciitis. If the pain persists visit your podiatrist.

Heel spur syndrome is related to long standing plantar fasciitis, and occurs after calcium deposits build up on the underside of the heel bone. Heel spurs form gradually over many months. Both plantar fasciitis and heel spurs can be avoided by a proper warm-up that includes stretching the plantar fascia.

The sesamoids are a set of two small bones under the head of the large first metatarsal bone. They are sometimes called the ball bearings of the foot. Lots of force goes through the sesamoids during running which can lead to inflammation and fractures. Proper shoes, custom orthotics and rest can all be useful in treating sesamoiditis.

Running can also result in minor bruises, scrapes and cuts on the feet, especially if the sneakers do not fit properly. Wearing the right size sneakers and socks can prevent such injuries.

Injuries to the feet can be prevented by stretching before starting and at the end of your exercise regimen. Wearing the right type and size running shoes, along with cross training can prevent injuries to the feet from running. Cross training helps to strengthen the muscles not used in running and allows the running muscles to rest. By balancing the weaker muscles, you reduce the risk of injury. Orthoses (arch supports/shoe inserts) prescribed by your podiatrist can also alleviate pain and other foot injuries brought on by running.

Even with the best preparation, aches, pains and sometimes injuries are an unfortunate and often common result of running, especially in new joggers and runners. Generally, if the pain subsides to mild discomfort or tenderness with slow, easy exercise, you may continue, but if it gets worse, stop the activity and rest. Remember, foot pain is not normal, it is telling you something is wrong. If the pain persists, see your podiatrist.

• For more information, email us at or visit To see a podiatrist, telephone 325-2996 for an appointment, visit Bahamas Foot Centre on Rosetta Street, or call 394-5824 for an appointment; or visit Bahamas Surgical Associates Centre on Hilltop Medical Centre off 4th Terrace Collins Avenue. In Grand Bahama, call Lucayan Medical Centre at 373-7400 for an appointment.

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