Running Injuries of the Foot and Ankle

The feet and ankles take on a great deal of stress when we run. When the feet and ankles take on too much stress, it can result in injuries.

It’s important to stretch and warm up before running, wear the right shoes, and pace yourself to help prevent running injuries. Failure to take these steps often contributes to running injuries. These are some of the most common foot and ankle injuries that runners experience.

Stress Fractures

While running, the repetitive impact of your feet on the ground can cause tiny cracks in the bones called stress fractures. Stress fractures are caused by repetitive activities and overuse. Factors like poor conditioning, improper technique, poor bone quality, or shoes with poor shock-absorbers can increase your risk of a stress fracture in the feet and ankles.

Stress fractures are most common in the second and third metatarsals in the feet because this area absorbs the most impact while running. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and tenderness at the site of the fracture. Pain usually gets better with rest and worse with activity. In some cases, bruising may be present.

In most cases, stress fractures in the feet and ankles can be treated without surgery. Treatment involves activity modification to keep stress off the foot while the fracture heals. A cast or protective footwear may be used to protect the foot and keep the bones in place as they heal.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. We use the Achilles tendon while walking, running, and jumping, so it is a very common injury among runners. Achilles tendonitis is the result of repetitive use of the Achilles tendon, but it is more likely to occur if you suddenly increase the length or intensity of your run or if your calf muscles are tight. These factors put additional stress on the Achilles tendon.

Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis include pain and stiffness along the tendon, thickening of the tendon, bone spurs, and swelling in the area. Pain may be worse in the morning or after activity. In most cases, Achilles tendonitis can be treated without surgery. Treatment may involve rest, ice, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Physical therapy and exercises can help to strengthen the tendon. Supportive shoes and orthotics may also be recommended to reduce irritation of the tendon.

Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains occur when the ankle is twisted, rolled, or turned beyond its normal range of motion, forcing the ligaments in the ankle to stretch beyond their limits. In more severe cases, the ligaments can even tear.

Depending on the severity of the sprain, symptoms can include tenderness, swelling, decreased range of motion, and instability. Sprains rarely require surgery, but will need a period of immobilization to heal properly. Sprains are usually treated with the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Rehabilitation exercises can also be helpful in restoring strength and range of motion in the ankle.

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a ligament at the bottom of the foot that connects the heel to the front of your foot. The plantar fascia absorbs a lot of the stress that we put on our feet, and the repetitive impact of running can cause the ligament to become inflamed, resulting in pain and stiffness at the bottom of the heel. This is called plantar fasciitis.

Surgery is rarely needed to relieve plantar fasciitis pain. Rest, ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and stretching exercises may be recommended. Cortisone injections can also help with pain and inflammation, and supportive shoes and orthotics can help to cushion the heel and reduce tension on the plantar fascia.

Sesamoiditis

Sesamoids are bones that are only connected to tendons or embedded in muscle. There are two small sesamoids in the underside of the foot near the big toe. Sesamoids provide a smooth surface for the tendons to glide over, and they help with weight bearing and elevation of the bones in the big toe. Sesamoids can break, and the surrounding tendons can become inflamed, causing a condition called sesamoiditis.

Sesamoiditis causes pain at the ball of the foot, under the big toe. If the sesamoids are fractured, the pain will begin immediately, but if the tendons are irritated, the pain may develop gradually. It may also be difficult to bend and straighten the big toe.

Sesamoiditis rarely requires surgery. Treatment generally includes rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications. Soft-soled, low-heeled shoes and cushioning pads may be recommended to relieve stress on the sesamoids. The big toe may also be taped to limit motion of the joint during the healing process.

Treatment of Running Injuries in Houston, TX

Dr. Randall Beckman of Spring Branch Podiatry has advanced training in sports medicine and uses the latest techniques in foot and ankle treatment to provide the best possible outcomes for those with running injuries. To learn more about the treatment of running injuries at Spring Branch Podiatry or schedule an appointment with Dr. Beckman, give us a call at (713) 461-1010.