Why Did I Get Injured?

Q Yesterday I started having pain on the top of my foot. It hurts to walk. What might I have done that would cause that kind of pain and what can I do besides rest it? I must confess that I have increased my mileage recently. – JULIE


A First, any time a runner experiences a new ache or pain, always, always take a look at your running shoes. Shoes are our most important piece of gear (for obvious reasons) and therefore, they are our first line of defense against injuries. So, examine your shoes carefully for wear and tear. It may be time to replace them!

How old are they? The life span of most shoes is approximately 400 to 800km. I know this is a wide range, but there are many variables. Some of the variables impacting their breakdown are a runner’s body weight, running surfaces and weather. Try writing the purchase date of your shoes in your running diary to help you keep track of when to replace them. Next up, are they the correct shoe for you? Did you get a shoe fit from a running store professional when you purchased them? And, just to make things even more complicated, our needs can change from time to time as we increase mileage, change running surfaces, or even with age, so it’s wise to return to your running store and have another shoe fit periodically.

In the meantime, apply RICE, which is rest, ice, compression and elevation.

Some runners may also opt to use an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory in conjunction with RICE, which may give you some relief from the discomfort but be aware that these drugs can also mask pain. Don’t make the mistake of over doing it while medicated.

Use RICE for a few days, and if your foot does not feel any better, contact your health care professional. When pain persists for several days, it’s always wise to see a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Second, check your shoe lacing, they may simply have been tied too tight. Our feet expand as we run, so we need to leave room for that expansion. Try loosening the laces or re-lace them and skip the eyelets over the affected area. You might try using every other set of eyelets to give your foot more room. Check out this video about how to properly tie your running shoes.

Next, you mention you have increased your mileage, so by how much have you increased your mileage? There’s a reason for keeping weekly mileage increases to 10-20 per cent of total weekly volume. Bumping mileage up too quickly increases our risk of injury so check your mileage log and cut back if you have bumped it up too aggressively.

Plan for 10-20 per cent mileage increases for two to three weeks, and then plan a cut back week. A cut back week means decreasing your mileage by 20-30 per cent for an easy week. Then follow with building mileage again for several weeks. This pattern should help reduce your injury risk and while still allowing you to build mileage.

As far as running, listen to your body. Pain is your guide. If the pain increases when you run, you shouldn’t run. If you are limping, or altering your gait, you shouldn’t run because this will only increase the risk of injuring something else and you don’t need to compound your problem! If the pain remains the same or even decreases while you run, then you can continue running but do not increase mileage or attempt speed work until you are symptom free. – SUSAN

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