Dear Foot Blogger Chick,
I am training for the upcoming Chicago Marathon. I have noticed recently that my foot hurts. I think it is below my second toe but it might be the third toe. I have been running more lately – I was behind with my training and I am trying to catch up. It started hurting right after I started running more. What should I do to get it to stop hurting during my training?
Marathon 2012 WooHoo!
Dear Woo Hoo,
So, let me ask some questions here. Is your foot swollen and red? Is it really tender to the touch?
Since you said that you have increased your distance lately because you were behind on your training, I am going to take an educated guess that you have developed a stress fracture in your foot.
Stress fractures are overuse injuries. When you suddenly increase your distance, the stress put on your foot can cause the bones in your foot to fracture. Runners, basketball players, and ballet dancers are likely candidates for stress fractures. Your feet really take a pounding when you run. Sudden increases can place too much demand on the bones in the foot and ankle. Steady increases allow the bones to adjust but sudden increases do not give the bone time to strengthen.
So, what are you going to do about this? It is time to see your friendly local podiatrist and have the foot checked. Unfortunately, stress fractures are hard to see on an x-ray until they are actually healing. To really see the stress fracture you would need to have an MRI or bone scan. This may not be necessary unless the injury is not healing.
Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend that you use the RICE method. No, that does not mean that you put rice on your foot. The RICE method is an acronym for Rest Ice Compression and Elevation. The doctor could also give you and walking boot to wear. Mostly, you need to stop running until it is better. If it only hurts when you are running, then just stop running. If it hurts when you are walking, the doctor may recommend using crutches until it is better.
In case you need a rule to live by, here is one that works in this case.
If there is pain, don’t do it
I can see that mind working. You are thinking that you will bear the pain through the Marathon and then will take some time off to let it heal. NO, that is not a good idea. You will be in much more trouble if the bone breaks completely through because you are not tending to the problem now. Keep going and you could end up in surgery to have it put back together. You will then miss a lot more than the 2012 Marathon.
So Woo Hoo, get a good book and sit with your foot up (higher than your heart) and read for awhile. Your foot will be good as new.
When you are back up on your feet, you need to start slowly and gradually building up your distances. Since you have had a stress fracture, your chances of having another are higher. Start slowly and make sure your shoes are up to the task. (correct fit and not too worn)
Foot Blogger Chick
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them in the comment section below. I am not a doctor but I check with one before answering questions.
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