You're heading into the last mile of your long run, when suddenly it comes back -- that nagging pain on the top of your foot that has been making itself known every now and again for the last week. Pain on the top of the foot is quite common in runners. However, that does not mean you should run through the discomfort. Treating the problem properly will prevent it from progressing to a stress fracture that could keep you out of training for months:
Extensor Tendonitis in Runners
A set of tendons, known as the metatarsal extensor tendons, run across the top of your foot from the muscles in your ankle to the bones in your toes. They pull your toes up as you run. If you put these tendons under excess strain by increasing your mileage too quickly, running in shoes without enough padding, or lacing your shoes too tightly, they may become inflamed and painful.
If you catch extensor tendonitis early, you should be able to treat it yourself by making a few adjustments in your training and routine.
- Back off on running and reduce your mileage for a few days.
- Cross train on an elliptical or bike. These exercises don't cause such impact on your feet.
- Ice your feet for 15 minutes several times per day, and make sure the shoes you're wearing are not pressing on the top of your foot.
How to Know if Your Problem is Worse Than Tendonitis
If the pain in the top of your foot has been bothering you for a while and has a sharp quality to it, there's a chance your ailment is more serious than tendonitis. Tendonitis, when unaddressed, can lead to stress fractures in the metatarsal bones on the top of your food.
If you've been running through the pain of tendonitis for a while, it's even more likely. Stress fractures tend to cause pain that's more constant than tendonitis. If you do try to run, your stride will typically be altered.
If your pain does not subside within a week or rest and regular icing, visit a podiatrist for diagnosis and treatment. Whether tendonitis or a stress fracture is to blame, your podiatrist will prescribe the proper treatment to get you back to your training plan sooner.
Like most running injuries, pain in the top of the foot starts off as a minor annoyance, but quickly becomes a big problem if you run through it rather than giving your body time to heal. You won't set a PR in your next race if you show up injured, so it's better to take a few days off and deal with the pain while it's minor, rather than push through and cause yourself more grief.
To learn more, try contacting a professional like Aiken Maurice W, DPM PA with any questions you might have or help you may need.