4 foot injuries to watch out for while running

Sports doctor Jordan Metzl explains how to keep your ankles, heels and arches strong and healthy.


by Jordan Metzl
Photography by Matt Rainey

1/ Plantar fasciitis

Where does it hurt?

Pain along the bottom of your heel – that is particularly bad first thing in the morning as you get out of bed.

What's going on?

Excess tension or pulling on the plantar fascia, which runs along the bottom of your foot, causes painful inflammation.

Treat it

  • Cross-train
  • Take an anti-inflammatory
  • Roll your foot over a frozen water bottle
  • Pump your ankle up and down 10 times before getting out of bed
  • Wear shoes with arch support
  • Stretch your calf
  • Consider a night splint

Prevent it


2/ Ankle tendinitis

Where does it hurt?

Pain on the outside of your ankle beneath the bone and toward the back of the joint, which may start out mild but worsens over time with repeated running.

What's going on?

A big bump in mileage can stress the two tendons that run along the outside of your ankle, causing them to become inflamed.

Treat it

  • Cross-train
  • Apply ice for 15 minutes, five times a day
  • Stretch and foam roll your calves
  • If discomfort lasts, see a sports doctor, who may recommend a brace

Prevent it

  • Do foot eversions and calf raises and foam roll your calves

3/ Stress fracture

Where does it hurt?

Pain in your forefoot or heel – that's most pronounced during running and worsens over time.

What's going on?

This develops over time when the demand on the bone exceeds the bone's ability to withstand the force.

Treat it

  • See a sports doc. Immediate diagnosis (and rest) reduces recovery time
  • Cross-train

Prevent it

  • Gradually up your mileage
  • If you overpronate, try arch supports
  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D
  • Strengthen your core and hips with exercises such as jump squats

4/ Morton's neuroma

Where does it hurt?

A burning pain in the ball of your foot that radiates toward your toes signals Morton's neuroma. You may also feel tingling or numbness between your second and third toes.

What's going on?

When your forefoot is constricted (by high heels or other pointy shoes), the plantar digital nerve gets squeezed, causing inflammation and pain.

Treat it

  • Stop running if the pain changes your stride
  • Wear running and everyday shoes with a wider toebox
  • If pain persists, see a sports doc, who may recommend a cortisone shot

Prevent it

  • Choose shoes that allow wiggle room

Adapted from Running Strong: The Sports Doctor's Complete Guide to Injury-Free Running for Life, by Jordan Metzl.


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pain on top of foot, pain in heel, morton's neuroma, tendinitis, stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, pain on outside of ankle
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