I know I am a little biased because I am currently dealing with a foot issue, but I have found that this type of injury is particularly challenging to manage. I know there are many worse injuries, but please allow my frustrated injured self to be dramatic for a moment. I’ll explain why I feel this way in a minute, but first I wanted to back up a bit and talk about what we think is going on with my foot. I realized I never really got into any detail after sharing that I was making some progress and had been evaluated by a PT.
This injury came on really quickly. I stopped running as soon as I started feeling pain, and that was back in the beginning of June. (It’s the posterior tibialis but also causes some heel pain when it gets bad). After I stopped running, it seemed to get worse before it got better. I went to an orthopedist who left me with more questions than answers. Then it felt better for a few weeks, I tried some different shoes, and slowly started doing some run/walks, and the pain came back. So assuming that running is causing this, I have been trying to figure out what I have done differently lately that would have caused this area to become aggravated.
While I can’t answer that question, we did notice some interesting things when I saw a PT. My left leg (side that hurts) is crossing over into the midline when I run. I am heel striking slightly on both sides, but my right foot flares out and my right leg overall is less stable. So we were thinking that since my right leg was weaker, my left leg was being overused to make up for it, and landing in the midline to make up for the lack of stability on the other side. So this would mean I need to strengthen my hip abductors in order to improve my gait. I’ve also started doing foot strengthening exercises to help stabilize the foot with the proper muscles rather than the post-tib.
So I have been working on that stuff diligently (clams, side lying leg lifts, bridges, and side steps) and also doing dead bugs and planks. I started adding in standing stability exercises and that is around the time I noticed that the pain came back. So it was either the return to running, or balancing on that one foot past the point of what my foot could handle.
In the past when I have been injured I have felt like it was manageable even if I couldn’t run. At the very least I could go for a walk. When it’s your foot that hurts, pretty much everything is out of the question. When it was bad, it would hurt even when I was sitting still. Now, I am sure I could swim, but unfortunately I don’t have a pool where I can swim laps or pool run.
Here are some reasons why I am finding that foot injuries are the worst, particularly for runners:
- It’s really hard to avoid being on your feet. No one has suggested that I need a boot or anything like that, but common sense could say that if it hurts to walk you should try not to walk on it. Well that’s easier said that done. I park 2 blocks from my building at work. I am always walking up and down the stairs at home. I find it impossible to sit still when there is stuff that needs to get done like cleaning or laundry or dishes. Plus most workouts require being on your feet!
- There are endless option for running shoes, and I think this is a blessing and a curse. It can be really confusing and overwhelming to know which shoes are right for you. While a running specialty store can make a recommendation, it really comes down to what feels best and what works for you, which can take a long time to figure out.
It’s also difficult to find work shoes and casual shoes that will support the foot and not make the injury worse. (Who knows- other shoes could have played in to the initial injury!) Especially for women, it can be really difficult to find a shoe to wear to work that looks appropriate/matches our clothes and feels good.
- It can be really challenging to figure out the root cause of the problem. There are all sorts of option like overpronating, heel striking, and unstable feet, but it’s also important to look up the kinetic chain for what else could be involved. Weak hips? Weak glutes? Weak core? I have been told all of these things. So I guess I just work on them all…
Depending on the type and severity of a foot injury it may be tough to find a cardio cross training option. Usually swimming or pool running are fine, if you have access to a pool. I am sure with some foot injuries you can use the elliptical or bike but if you are avoiding putting any pressure on the foot those may not be the best options.
I know I am not the only one dealing with foot problems lately so I’m sure there are others who can relate to this!
What area do you think is the worst to injure?
How do you stay active when you can’t run?