Although regular exercise is necessary for attaining optimal overall health, exercising can cause a number of foot problems. Without stretching adequately, wearing suitable footwear, and maintaining proper form while exercising, you risk injury to the tendons, muscles, bones, and skin of your feet.
Fortunately, while many exercise-related foot problems can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, they can be healed with proper treatment. If you have a foot injury or condition caused from exercising, a skilled podiatrist can provide the necessary treatment to return or improve foot functionality.
Common exercise-related foot problems include:
- Bone problems:
- “Policeman’s Heel” (injury to the heel bone caused by a sudden impact)
- Foot- and toe-bone breaks and fractures (full or partial breaking of the bones)
- Nerve problems:
- Morton’s Neuroma (pinching of the nerves between the toes)
- Skin problems:
- Athlete’s Foot (a fungal skin infection)
- Blisters (friction burns to the skin)
- Bunions (enlargement of the soft tissue and bone inside the ball of the big toe)
- Tendon problems:
- Metatarsalgia (inflammation of the toe joints)
- Plantar fasciitis (injury of the arch-of-foot tendon)
- Turf toe (injury to the ligaments of the big toe)
- Other problems:
- Arch pain
- Ball-of-foot pain
- Forefoot pain
Causes and symptoms of exercise foot problems
Many exercises, particularly high-impact ones such as contact sports and jogging, place great stress on your feet and legs, thereby increasing the risk of injury. Foot injuries may occur suddenly (i.e. toe sprains) or over time (i.e. tendon problems caused by repetitive movements).
The following factors can increase the likelihood of exercise-related foot problems:
- Failing to alternate between more- and less-strenuous exercises (thereby increasing stress on the foot tissues)
- Failing to stretch properly before and after exercising
- Wearing shoes that do not provide proper exercise support
If you experience any of the symptoms of an exercise-related foot problem, including pain, tightness, and/or heat in the foot or toes, and difficulty standing or walking, call your doctor right away.
Treatment for exercise related foot problems
Treatment for an exercise-related foot problem depends on the cause and type of problem. Generally, tendon and bone problems are stabilized with a splint, bandage, or cast, thereby allowing the foot to heal. Your doctor will usually treat skin problems with a topical medication. Nerve problems may require surgery or another treatment.
If you believe you have an exercise-related foot problem and would like to learn more about your treatment options, contact your doctor for the information you need to make an informed decision for your health.