What are the Most Common Running Foot Injuries?

In general, the most common running foot injuries can be classified into two typical categories: plantar fasciitis, the specific inflammation of the thick tissue at the bottom of the foot, and foot pain in the broader sense which encompasses several different afflictions. The three basic running foot injuries of this latter category are pulled muscles, tendinitis and bone fracture. In addition, many runners carry a fair risk for overpronation, which occurs when the normal posture of the foot is exaggerated and the foot rolls excessively inwards. Many common running foot injuries, such as plantar fasciitis and tendinitis, are actually secondary injuries to overpronation.

Plantar fasciitis refers to general inflammation in the thick tissue comprising the bottom of the foot, but it is most common in the heel. The tissue originates in the heel area to extend outward towards the rest of the foot, and inflammation of this area is generally provoked by long periods of pressure. The inflammation results in a tightness of the tissue, leading to pain when walking or running. If untreated, plantar fasciitis in the heel can lead to a heel spur.


A pulled muscle generally refers to a muscle that has been strained past its natural limit, usually resulting in sharp, obvious pain. The human foot contains approximately 20 different types of muscles, and a muscle pull on any of them can be indicated by swelling that becomes visible when the shoe is removed. Ibuprofen can be helpful in easing swelling, as can the administration of an ice pack for generally up to ten minutes on the affected area and one minute off.

Tendinitis refers to the inflammation of a tendon, causing it to swell and rub against areas of the body it shouldn't. In general, one of the most common causes of tendinitis is repetitive and stressful overuse of the tendon. Tendinitis is one of the most common running foot injuries, especially in the arch area of the foot, in which the nerve around the tendon also becomes inflamed. While most minor cases of this condition can be treated with ibuprofen and ice and will usually heal within two to three weeks, proper warm-ups and consistent stretching are normally enough to successfully avoid it altogether.

While, on the whole, there are several different types of fractures, bone fracture as far as running foot injuries are concerned will usually involve hairline, or stress, fractures. These are extremely slim cracks that may not even reach through the entire bone and are most commonly associated with bones that are involved in repetitive weight-bearing. In feet, hairline fractures occur most commonly in the toe bones. They may not exhibit any symptoms outside of a general tenderness in the area, and an x-ray is typically the only way to diagnose a hairline fracture with certainty. Many hairline fractures will heal on their own, but may require anywhere from two to seven weeks depending on the severity.

Pronation refers to the normal, healthy movement of the foot, specifically the roll that occurs in the heel and arch area of the foot when walking or running. Overpronation manifests as an excessive inward rolling of the foot in an individual's gait, leading to dysfunction in the shock absorbency of the foot. This puts the individual at an even greater risk of stress or overuse-related injuries. A variety of factors, including natural bone structure, can influence an individual's likelihood to overpronate, but shoes designed to control foot motion can be helpful in adapting to a healthy gait.



Discuss this Article

Post 2

As much long-distance running as I have done, and continue to do, it is a bit surprising that I have no foot issues and haven't had any significant problems. I have turned my ankles numerous times, but nothing worth mentioning.

I know many runners who have suffered with stress fractures in their feet and numerous other foot ailments. I feel fortunate to have remained injury free.

Post 1

I have had plantar fasciitis and the symptoms are uncomfortable. I've heard some people say that the pain that comes with the condition feels like walking on broken glass.

I had some pain in my foot. There was burning, but mostly I had the swelling, which made walking very uncomfortable and awkward. I felt like I was walking with five pairs of thick socks on my feet. Often times, the symptoms were worse when I awoke in the morning.

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