Sunday, 23 October 2016

4 Common Foot Problems Plaguing Runners

Of all parts of the body, the feet happen to be the boon or bane of runners; that is perhaps why most runners have a love-hate relationship with their own feet, depending on the fortunes or misfortunes of their chosen profession. Runners have to deal with various foot problems – from overuse injuries and blisters to fractures and soreness.

While some of these conditions can be treated easily with medication, shoes with proper support and orthotics, others may need elaborate treatment together with staying off the running track for quite some time. Listed below are four most common foot problems that are anathema to runners:

Plantar fasciitis

Runners who intensify their training sessions all of a sudden, or use shoes with improper support may feel acute pain on the bottom of their feet. This happens because of the inflammation of plantar fascia, a thick fibrous layer of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. This foot problem is known as plantar fasciitis. Those with too weak or tight calf muscles are also prone to this condition.

Foot doctors advise using proper running shoes with inserts or orthotics to avoid this ailment, the victims of which would benefit if they stretch their feet, apply ice on the bottom of their feet and roll the affected foot (after the pain has subsided) on a tennis ball.

Stress fracture

Though stress fractures can occur in any of the several bones comprising the foot, they are most likely to affect the metatarsals (a group of five long bones that lead to the base of each toe from the mid- and hind-foot). Runners do suffer from stress fractures when they step accidentally on potholes, stones or uneven surfaces. Staying off the running track is the only solution in such cases to let the affected bone heal.

Athlete’s foot

This is a fungal infection affecting the foot skin, especially between the toes. Runners who sweat a lot and leave their skin moist for a long time are prone to this ailment. Since this is a mildly contagious disease, contact with an infected person or towels, shoes, etc., can increase the risk. The fungus could also be present on the floor of showers or locker rooms shared by runners. The best way to guard against this disease is to keep the skin dry between toes, wear absorbent socks and change wet shoes as soon as possible. 

Friction induced problems

Shear force works on foot skin while one runs; it can cause accumulation of fluid in some areas leading to blisters. Corns and calluses can occur when shear forces aren’t strong enough to form blisters. To reduce the friction at work between the feet and the shoes, a runner should wear well-fitted shoes along with absorbent socks. Applying petroleum jelly on the affected area or using prescription treatments would offer speedy relief from these friction-induced foot ailments.

The foot is an amazingly complex mechanism that comprises several muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments. All these parts have to work well together for a good running practice. A single disruption, injury or ailment of any of these parts would affect the proper function of the feet. Runners should never ever ignore foot pain or any other discomfort: they should consult promptly an experienced foot care specialist.

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