Long Distance Running Can Cause a Variety of Foot Problems

Long distance running must be planned with adequate training.


Training for long distance running has been challenging and very tedious.  I began running short distances of one mile or less and then, over the next few weeks, progressed to running three miles every other day.  My longest run thus far has been six miles and, in all honesty, my pace is slow, so I did not have too much trouble completing it.
During my runs I would experience nAt 35 years of age, I have made the decision to start exercising consistently and to take up long distance running.  My family’s medical history is chock full of cardiac disease and blood pressure issues, so preventing a cardiac event is on the top of my list of things to do.  My recurrent problem in remaining consistent with an exercise program is lack of motivation.  That is why I paid a hefty fee to run a full marathon in January of 2016.  I signed up specifically for the Disney Marathon with hope that Mickey and his friends will be able to carry me across the finish line if I collapse at mile twenty.  The dreaded runner’s wall is something I know I will meet in the near future.  Hopefully our first interaction will be short lived and I will be able to carry on without suffering too much grief.umbness at the balls of my feet and also pain at the front of both of my ankles.  These symptoms would constantly occur around mile two.  So, I decided to try stretching when I started to feel the symptoms.  The stretch I would perform is a basic calf stretch up against a solid object.  My goal was to stretch the back muscles of my leg so that my muscles would be less strained.  The stretching relieved most of my pain and numbness but soon after beginning my long distance running, I would feel the same problem happening again.

Numbness or neuropathy of the feet is caused by a variety of problems such as diabetes, pinched nerves, back problems, and sometimes exercise.  The tarsal tunnel is the area on the inside of the ankle where a large nerve called the tibial nerve travels down the leg and into the foot.  The tibial nerve is responsible for motion of the foot muscles and also sensations at the bottom of the foot.  The tarsal tunnel is simply a structure that encases the tibial nerve and also several blood vessels and tendons.  When one exercises it is possible to have increased pressure in this area due to swelling.  This swelling creates pressure on the tibial nerve and results in the sensation of numbness to the bottom of the foot.  When a nerve is pushed on for too long it usually results in either pain or numbness.  It is the same reason why some people experience their backside and legs become numb when sitting for long periods of time.  Another possible cause of increased pressure to the tarsal tunnel can be because of a decrease in arch height of the foot.  When a person’s arch collapses down to the ground it causes a large amount of strain to the ligaments of the tarsal tunnel.  This strain increases pressure within the tunnel and results in numbness to the foot.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a term that could be used in describing this condition but a more appropriate name would be “exercise induced compartment syndrome.”  The symptoms are caused by increasing pressure to the tarsal tunnel due to exercise and relieved immediately with stopping of the activity.  This problem is quite common when long distance running, but luckily it can be fixed with a custom orthotic.  The stretching helped but it was not enough to keep the symptoms away.  After several weeks of numbness I decided to start using my custom orthotics and I immediately recognized the improvement in symptoms.  I was able to run three miles without any symptoms.  The next day i ran again and still no symptoms to speak of.  So, it is safe to say that orthotics do help with many types of foot pain.  The numbness went away because my arch was no longer collapsing thus decreasing the strain on the tarsal tunnel structures.  My tendons were not strained as hard so the swelling that was once occurring in my ankle was not occurring any longer.  The nerve was no longer becoming compressed because the swelling was not occurring.
The front of my ankle also stopped hurting because the anterior tibial muscle, which is the muscle at the front of the leg that helps to prevent the foot from slapping down into the ground, was not being strained.  When the arch of the foot collapses the anterior tibial tendon becomes strained because its job is to prevent the foot from slamming into the ground with each step.  This muscle is also known as the decelerator of the gait cycle.   The muscle fires and slows down the speed of the foot so that normal heel to toe gait can occur.  Once I started wearing the orthotics my foot was not collapsing and therefore the anterior tibial tendon was no longer being strained.

It is truly amazing to see the devices that I work with every day have a direct effect on my running problems and long distance running in general.  To experience the relief of symptoms immediately after using them reinforces my trust in our product and I can confidently recommend them to all my patients without any reservations.  I have made minor adjustments to my orthotics over time and now they are completely comfortable.  My break in period for the orthotics was two weeks and now I cannot run without them. Long distance running is still a reality!

If you or a loved one is considering long distance running and have experienced similiar symptoms then I suggest you call and make an appointment to get your custom orthotics today.  The satisfaction of immediate gratification is priceless and now I feel confident that my training will progress without any further foot problems.

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