Your feet need to carry you the distance; in every mile of your training runs and every step of your race. Sustaining a foot injury, even a minor one, can cause a significant setback in your racing successes and goals. The smart runner is the one that quickly identifies the injury, realizes the cause and seeks effective treatment.
Identifying the injury involves figuring out the foot anatomy that is injured; is it soft tissue, such as muscle, tendon, or ligament? Is it bone, and if so, which one(s) are involved? Is it neurovascular, involving nerve or blood vessels? Once the area has been localized, it is necessary to figure out the cause or nature of the injury. Was there a sudden trauma, such as a fall or missed step that initiated the injury? Or, was the injury a result of a training error, for example, “too much, too fast?” Was there a problem with the running surface, running shoes or lack of conditioning? These must be answered in order to find the underlying cause of the injury and to avoid recurrence.
Too many runners ignore the pain their bodies are producing and try to “run through it” hoping it will clear up within a few days, while still continuing to train. When an injury does not respond to the well-known pneumonic, PRICE, (Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) within 7 days, it is time to seek immediate medical help. Effective treatment will provide the fastest return to training and reaching your goals. Putting off treatment, hoping it will get better with time, even for a few weeks will cost you more in the end. The injury most likely will worsen, requiring more extensive treatment and time to resolve. Stay on top of foot injuries and you will stay on top of your training.