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Foot ache associated with exercise

plantar1I am a 45-year-old office worker who jogs two to three kilometers three to four times a week to keep fit. My problem is I have been experiencing pain on the sole of my feet when I start to walk upon waking up in the morning for several weeks now. At the start, the pain got relieved after I walk for a few minutes, but lately, my soles, especially the heel area are slightly sore the whole day. Is this pain related to my jogging, but I’ve been jogging for years now?  —robert_y@yahoo.com

Yes, your foot ache is most likely related to your jogging. In fact, foot ache is very common among middle-aged people like you who engage in sports that involve a lot of walking or running such as tennis, golf, and, of course, jogging. It is likewise common in pregnant women and those whose work requires long periods of time on their feet. Often, the foot pain is precipitated by a sudden gain in body weight or the wearing of shoes with poor cushioning or inadequate arch support.

 

Conditions that produce exercise-associated foot ache

There are many causes of foot pain associated with exercise. They include tendonitis, contusions, and stress fractures, but I suspect what you have is a condition called plantar fasciitis, because the pain comes only when you start to walk upon waking up in the morning, which is very typical of this condition.

 

What is plantar fasciitis?plantar2 copy

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia, a broad band of fibrous tissue that spans the area between the heel and the toes and which supports the arch of the foot. It occurs when micro-tears in the fascia develop because of excessive or frequent side-to-side movement of the foot.

Plantar fasciitis comprise about 10 percent of all running injuries, but it is relatively rare among young people, except for professional athletes, because in youngsters, the plantar fascia is very supple and can withstand stretching. With age, however, the tissue loses its elasticity and tears easily while the fat pad that cushions the heel thins out. Consequently, plantar fasciitis is more common in middle-aged and old people.

 

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis

Typically, plantar fasciitis manifests as pain at the bottom of the heel and foot that occurs when one stands up or walks after getting out of bed or sitting for a long time. The pain usually eases after walking for a while. Why is this so?

When a person is resting or asleep, the plantar fascia is in a slightly contracted position. At this position, the micro-tears in the fascia that occurred during the day start to heal. When the person wakes up and walks, the healing tears get stretched and cause foot ache. After walking for some time, the healing tissues are re-torn and the pain eases or disappears. In long-standing cases of plantar fasciitis, however, the pain persists and the foot may hurt more as the day goes on.

 

Treatment and prevention of plantar fasciitis

The best thing you can do for your plantar fasciitis is stretching.

• Flex your toes up and down and stretch your ankles for 30 seconds before getting out of bed in the morning

• Perform regular daily stretching and strengthening exercises for your foot. Consult a physiatrist (doctor specializing in rehabilitation medicine) or a good physical therapist so you can be taught the right exercises.

The following measures will also help:

• Maintain a healthy weight so as not to put unnecessary pressure on your feet.

•Warm up before exercising.

•Ice your feet or apply cold compress for 10 to 20 minutes after jogging.

•Wear soft-soled shoes with good arch support. You can also use heel pads and arch supports (available in sports shops).

 

Email inquiries on health matters to: medical_notes@yahoo.com