Foot Pain After the Fifth Third River Bank Run
Tomorrow (5/12) is the 41st annual Fifth Third River Bank Run and there are over 18,000 people expected to participate in the:
- 5K Community Walk;
- 5K Run;
- 10K Run;
- 25K Handcycle Race;
- 25K Wheelchair Race;
- And 25K Race.
Perhaps you’re going to be one of the participants – but even if not, we’re sure you probably know someone else who will be!
The River Bank Run – Benefitting Our Community and Your Physical Health!
The Fifth Third River Bank Run is obviously a huge event for West Michigan, one that benefits the community—and especially charities like Kids Hope USA, Meals on Wheels West Michigan, and Conductive Learning Center—in so many different ways.
A particular benefit that might not be thought of immediately is the positive impact the River Bank Run has on health and wellbeing.
Sure, it’s easy to see the impressive numbers of participants on race day, but these men and women (and even boys and girls) didn’t just wake up and decide to do whichever run or race they are participating in. Instead, they made the decision much earlier and used a training program to build up their conditioning.
In doing so, they have started burning more calories, improving their cardiovascular systems, and strengthening muscles and bones. More than that—if all of those benefits weren’t enough!—they are likely sleeping better, feeling less stressed, and have been in an overall better mood (all of which are known benefits for exercise).
The truth of the matter for running is this – there’s a decent chance that you will eventually sustain an injury.
(Now, the risk of injury can be lowered significantly with some smart prevention—which we’ll discuss shortly—and the benefits from running are virtually countless, so don’t let them stop you from this awesome form of exercise!)
Being Aware of Running Injuries
Injury risk is simply something that comes from virtually any form of physical activity. In the case of running, the lower limbs are particularly at risk, with many running injuries happening in the feet and ankles (along with knees and legs).
Some of the more common foot and ankle running injuries include:
- Ankle Sprains. An ankle sprain is an acute injury caused by a twisting or rolling movement that overstretches and tears the ligaments supporting the ankle joints. Whether they happen on the trail or after accidentally misjudging the placement of a curb, sprains can be extremely painful and cause the ankle to become inflamed immediately.
- Plantar Fasciitis. This painful inflammation of the thick tissue running along the bottom of the foot—the plantar fascia—is actually the most common form of heel pain for adults. The pain is typically a dull ache adjacent to the heel bone (calcaneus), but it can be sharp and intense in the morning when you take the first steps of the day.
- Achilles Tendinitis. When the Achilles tendon—which connects your calf muscle to your heel—becomes inflamed, it can cause continuous pain in the back of the heel. The pain is usually stronger during and immediately following physical activity, however. This particular running injury occurs in response to increased mileage and/or intensity, but also can develop if you start doing more hill work during your training.
- Stress Fractures. Whereas the previous injuries all occur in soft tissues, these ones happen in bone tissue. With a stress fracture, the pain is caused by a tiny crack in the surface of a bone. Just because the crack is small in stature, doesn’t mean it can’t cause big pain, though! Unlike acute bone fractures, these are not generally caused by a single incident. Rather, they are overuse injuries caused by an overload of repetitive physical stress (the impact of feet landing on the ground while running).
Finding Relief from Existing Foot Pain After Running
Hopefully your training and participation in the Fifth Third River Bank Run was injury-free and you had a great experience – no matter if you set a new PR or not!
In the event you crossed the finish line with foot or ankle pain (or it developed sometime after), you need to address it immediately.
The first step in doing so is to put your training on hold. Runners are notorious for pushing through the pain or trying to ignore it until it’s become quite severe. Here’s the problem with this “tough guy” mentality – continuing normal activity on an injured limb will only lead to greater injury, and more pain!
As long as we are not talking about an emergency situation, you should then proceed to some basic first aid. Specifically, we are talking about RICE therapy – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
Resting gives your body a chance to begin healing damaged tissue, while at the same time preventing further damage from occurring. Icing the injured limb both relieves pain and reduces swelling. You can also reduce swelling by wrapping the foot or ankle tightly—but not to the point of cutting off circulation!—with an Ace bandage wrap (compression) and keeping the limb elevated above heart level.
Along with these basic first aid measures, contact our office and request an appointment so we can diagnose the injury and create a customized treatment plan for you.
When you do see us, the good news is that we can resolve many running injuries with conservative care!
In the event we do recommend surgical intervention—which is rare and typically reserved for particularly severe injuries—you can take comfort in the fact our team is skilled, experienced, and stays up-to-date with the best current foot and ankle surgical techniques.
No matter if treatment is conservative or surgical in nature, a likely component will be some physical therapy. Stretching and strengthening exercises can be quite beneficial – provided you follow the prescribed protocol.
Our goal for your treatment is to make sure you are able to return to running in the shortest possible amount of time!
Reducing Injury Risk with Smart Footwear Choices
Whereas we can provide expert care to help you overcome a foot or ankle injury, we’re pretty sure you’d prefer not to be hurt in the first place.
The fact of the matter is this – we’d prefer that too!
We want you to avoid pain and to be able to perform your favorite activities. The good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent problems from developing. As a starting point for this, let’s take a look at the essential equipment for this activity – running shoes.
If you’re a seasoned runner, you should already know the importance of a good running shoe. After all, this can make the difference between a great training or racing experience and potential injury!
The problem for most new runners is not being informed. Too many people simply don’t know which shoe types are right for their feet.
Knowing your foot type—particularly with regard to arch height—and pronation pattern before you go to buy running shoes can make a world of difference. This is something that holds true no matter if you participate in the River Bank’s 5K Run, 25K Race, or even 5K Community Walk events.
So the question becomes – how do you know what foot type you have? Easy! Start by getting out a piece of dark paper, wet the bottom of your feet, and then take a step on the paper. By studying the imprint left behind, you will be able to tell. Here’s how:
- If your imprint is wide and shows most of the foot—so most or all of the footprint on the paper is wet or damp—you have flat feet, in which case the odds are rather high you overpronate.
- If your imprint is on the front and back portions and connected only by a thin, wet strip, then you have high arches. This means it’s more likely you supinate (under-pronate).
- If your imprint has a medium strip (roughly half of the total foot width) connecting the areas, then your arch height is moderate and your pronation pattern is probably neutral – which is actually ideal.
Regardless of which foot type you have—and estimates of what percentage of the population has each one tend to differ wildly—there are running shoes that are right for you. Unfortunately, there are many new runners who sustain injuries due to improper footwear selection.
Here are some guidelines to help you determine which running shoes will be best for you:
- For the flat-footed runner, you need shoes that are rigid and stable. This will control the overpronation – at least to a certain degree. If you overpronate excessively, shoe choice isn’t the complete answer. Since you will likely require orthotics, it’s important that you pick footwear that fits appropriately with the orthotics inside them.
- For runners who have high arches, you should look for shoes featuring ample cushioning. Your supination pattern takes away a foot’s ability to absorb shock efficiently, so the extra cushioning can reduce your risk for problems like stress fractures and ankle pain.
- No matter your arch height or pronation style, your running shoes should be snug (but not tight) when laced properly. Also, you should have about a thumb’s width of space between the longest toe and the front of the shoe.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of wearing proper running shoes that work with your pronation pattern and fit correctly. To help you find the right footwear, here are some additional tips:
Pro Tip #1 – When you shop for shoes matters. Feet swell during the course of the day, so go shopping for your running shoes in the late afternoon or early evening.
Pro Tip #2– Running shoes should feel comfortable when you’re at the store. Don’t count on “breaking them in.”
Pro Tip #3– Go to a store that caters specifically to runners. For example, Holland’s Gazelle Sports on 8th Street is an excellent resource. Their employees know running and are able to answer any questions you might have about which shoes would be best for you.
Pro Tip #4– Don’t feel pressure to buy the most expensive pair on the market, but you should expect to pay a little extra for quality shoes. Keep in mind, though, that this is an investment in your health and comfort. You could end up paying significantly less in the long run by shelling out a couple of extra dollars on quality in the first place.
Additional Preventative Measures
Having a proper pair of well-fitting running shoes is a great start, but there are other measures you can take to reduce your risk of injury. These include things like:
- Easing into a new running program. No matter if you’re just getting started or have decided to make changes to an existing training program, you need to ease into it. Start at a reasonable level and then gradually ramp up your intensity and/or duration. Remember, doing “too much, too soon” can be a recipe for injury.
- Warming up and stretching.Before any training session or race, take the time to warm up and stretch first. For your warmup, 10-15 minutes of brisk walking or light jogging will help get your body ready for action. With regards to stretching, avoid the static stretches people used to do—the ones where you hold a stretch for 20-30 seconds before releasing—and instead use dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches are movements that take your body through ranges of motion applicable to the activity you are going to do.
- Cushioning your feet.As we previously noted, this is especially important for those who have high foot arches. Most runners, though, can benefit from an appropriate level of cushioning – be it from a cushioning heel insert or customized orthic device from our office. Really, this will depend on your foot type and gait pattern. Not sure what you need? Our team is happy to help!
- Avoiding hard and uneven surfaces.As much as possible, run on soft and even surfaces to reduce the amount of physical force and shock placed upon your lower limbs.
- Giving your feet time to rest between runs.Running is an excellent form of exercise, but it does take a toll on your body. Instead of training every day, use a rest day between running sessions (or perhaps a second after a particularly grueling session) so your feet have time to recover.
- Cross-training.Just because we advocate taking time from running doesn’t mean you have to be completely inactive. In fact, one of the best things you can do for your overall health and wellbeing is to cross-train by using a variety of exercises. So on your non-running days, consider cycling, walking, strength training, yoga, or swimming (we have many great pool options here in West Michigan!).
Expert Foot Care in West Michigan – After the River Bank Run and Beyond!
There are a plethora of foot and ankle problems that can develop – whether from running or otherwise. One thing they all have in common is the simple fact that they need to be addressed.
Medical conditions are always most effectively resolved at their earliest stages, so don’t wait to seek help for a foot or ankle injury (and especially not if it’s something that has started on account of running or other physical activity!). Instead, come see our team here at Northwood Foot and Ankle Center.