The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Running in NYC After an Injury: Is Running With Foot Pain Okay, and When Is It Safe to Run Again?

Posted by on Monday, January 11th, 2016

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“Yeah, yeah, yeah, doc…I know I’m injured…but when can I run again?” Runners are unique people. They love what they do! They recognize that running is not just about maintaining health or getting into better shape. For many, running is a sort of “high” and a vital form of stress relief. Participants of the NY Road Runners Club or the local race community also find running to be a highly anticipated social event, so it’s understandable that our patients are eager to resume their usual schedule. Of course, you don’t want to end up re-injuring yourself or landing yourself in the operating room, either. While every case is specific to the individual, here are a few general guidelines to consider when deciding when to get back into training.

running with foot pain
Running with foot pain is usually not a good idea. We give some tips on when it might be okay and when to let your body rest. Image Source: Flickr CC user tomsaint

Running With Heel Pain

The classic heel pain symptom is the sensation that there’s a bruise under the heel, and this generally indicates plantar fasciitis. The inflammation or microscopic tearing of the plantar fascia ligament can be brought on by sudden increases in activity, calf muscle tightness, or improper footwear. It’s a common injury: about 10% of runners will suffer from plantar fasciitis at some point in their running careers.1http://running.competitor.com/2014/03/injury-prevention/how-to-treat-and-beat-plantar-fasciitis_97607

While we do recommend taking a few weeks of full rest, competitive runners can often continue running during the recovery process. Switching to a different type of shoe and taping the arch of the foot can help, as can rolling and stretching the feet and calves afterward. Seek help if your symptoms do not improve within a month or so.

Achilles Tendon Pain

Achilles injuries are most commonly seen in relatively sedentary people who initiate a sudden training program. We see a lot of new moms who are returning to running after taking some time off to have a baby, as well as “weekend warriors” who try to make up for all that time in the office by pounding the pavement during the weekend. Tightness in the calf is often the reason people injure their Achilles. Improper running shoes and incorrect gait or overpronation can be factors as well. Stretching, especially the calf area, is an important precaution to take at home. We also recommend calf strengthening exercises and activities like swimming or cycling that offload stress from the Achilles.

“There may be a need to cut running intitially, but there is also general agreement that off-loading the tendon for too long is unhelpful,” reports the UK Guardian.2http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/the-running-blog/2014/oct/28/take-load-off-feet-achilles-tendinopathy-runners-injury They add that morning stiffness can be a sign that the tendon is having trouble coping with the load. On the other hand, slow and heavy load-strength training can improve the tendon’s tolerance when done three times a week with a physical therapist. Gait analysis to address biomechanical issues is recommended, as are new, minimally-invasive treatments like platelet rich plasma injections. We offer all of these treatments at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC and Westchester. You can expect to notice some kind of improvement within three to six months, as this is a sl0w-healing part of the body. If you’re not feeling better, surgery may be an option on the table.

Running With Foot Pain

If you’re from the “No pain, no gain” school of thought, there are several things you can do to make running with foot pain easier:3http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/well-good/teach-me/73332733/can-foot-pain-be-fixed-so-you-can-run-again

  • Try to reduce ground reaction force by striking as lightly as you can and avoiding heavy heel strikes.
  • Shorten your stride a little so the whole pad of the foot connects with the ground, rather than heel or forefoot.
  • Avoid running on your toes, which only strains the calf muscles further.
  • Try to run in a straight, smooth motion and avoid “bouncing.”
  • Run on softer surfaces like grass, a rubber track, or a treadmill.
  • Stretch your legs, hamstrings, quads, and calves before and after running.
  • Use an ice-pack to reduce inflammation after your run and before bed.

But ultimately, we advise listening to your body. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. If pain persists or is severe, you should rest and seek treatment from a professional. Untreated pain over time can lead to more serious injuries that keep you out of your running shoes even longer. We’ve all been there. It’s frustrating. But your friends at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine are here to help in every way possible, so stop in at one of our offices or give us a call to find support.

 

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1. http://running.competitor.com/2014/03/injury-prevention/how-to-treat-and-beat-plantar-fasciitis_97607
2. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/the-running-blog/2014/oct/28/take-load-off-feet-achilles-tendinopathy-runners-injury
3. http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/well-good/teach-me/73332733/can-foot-pain-be-fixed-so-you-can-run-again

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.