#176 My foot hurt when I ran today…what do I do NOW? | DOC

#176 My foot hurt when I ran today…what do I do NOW?

Today on the Doc On The Run Podcast we’re talking about what to do now, if your first just started hurting when you ran today.

I get lots of emails from people who listen to the podcast and they have questions, questions of all varieties. Usually, they’re about chronic injuries, but sometimes occasionally, like in this case, I got an email from somebody who said, “I ran today and my foot hurt when I ran. What should I do right now?” This is somebody that had an injury previously and understands that getting on top of the problem is key. 

You want to take the quickest course of action that you can when you get an injury, and most people miss this. 

The reason I know that is I do remote consultations all day long. I do them for elite runners, I do them with actual doctors who are runners, I do them with all kinds of different people of different levels and abilities. Everything from novice runners to experienced athletes to professional athletes, but I’m telling you that most people, even professional athletes, even doctors sometimes, they miss this initial step that I think will be most helpful for you right now and down the road if you don’t rapidly improve. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. 

Let’s imagine that you go out for a run tomorrow and suddenly you get some pain in your foot. It could be in the ball of the foot that might make you think you have a stress fracture of the one of the metatarsal bones. It might feel like you have capsulitis or a plantar plate injury or it could feel like peroneal tendinitis or achilles tendinitis or any other running injury. But the thing is, is that you have in your brain as a runner what most of these injuries mean, and you just want to tune it out. You don’t want to pay attention to it. You’re worried it’s going to disrupt your training. 

Many times what we do instinctively is we stick our head at the sand. We just could say, “Okay, well I’m just going to wait and see how bad it is tomorrow.” But when you do that, you’re actually missing some crucial steps. There are really a few things you need to do right now. 

There are four things you need to take care of that you need to do today, immediately, when your foot starts hurting. If this happens to you a week from now or a month from now, you should go back to this episode and listen to it. I’m going to tell you exactly what to do now. 

The first thing is you want to print out the pain journal. You want to write down everything you can in as much detail as you can so that you can have something to reference if you don’t get better, and so you’ll know what to be afraid of and not afraid of if you get another injury in the future. If you go to the show notes episode for this page, you can print out the pain journal. I’ve made one. You don’t have to design it, you don’t have to come up with it. You can just print it out, you can use it, it’s free. 

Just go to the show notes episode and you can get the pain journal that will help you in this process. 

It’s really simply. You print out the pain journal and then you want to think about this. You actually want to think, “Okay, exactly where does it hurt and what does it feel like? Does it hurt right where the second toe attaches to the foot at the ball of the foot? Does it happen to hurt right on the outside of the foot? Where exactly?” One thing you can do is you can poke around with your finger and then take a picture of that one spot where it hurts the most because if that changes, that will be really useful information. 

When it first starts hurting, you want to note exactly where it hurts and what it feels like. Is it aching pain? Is it throbbing pain? Is it tingling? Is it burning? Is it radiating? What is it? What does it feel like? So, make note of that. The next thing, this is going to sound stupid, but you need to look at it. I ask runners every day, “When this first started, did you have any bruising? Was it red, was it swollen?” They usually don’t know. Most of the time they don’t know. They’ll say, “Well, I don’t think so. I don’t remember,” which means they didn’t actually look at it. 

You want to actually look at it, look at where it hurts, look at the top of your foot, look at the bottom of the foot, whatever. Is it red? Do you have any bruising at all? Is it swollen, does it look like the other foot? Does it look like the skin has more tension in it indicating that it is actually a little bit more swollen than your other non injured foot? That’s extremely important. 

Again, if you take a picture for future comparison that will help you because if you don’t get better or if this injury actually lingers, then you can use that picture to compare how much bruising you have compared to how much bruising you had on the day of the initial injury or the day after the initial injury or whenever you first actually look at it. 

That’s step number three is look at it and make note of whether or not you have anything that’s an evidence of an injury like redness, bruising, or swelling. The fourth thing is to actually take action. When you first get injured, when your foot first start having pain when you’re running, you have some injury in your foot, you really don’t know what the problem is. You don’t know if it’s stress fracture, you don’t know if it’s a plantar plate sprain, you don’t know if it’s peroneal tenosynovitis or extensor tenosynovitis or peroneal tendinitis or achilles tendinitis. But you don’t have to. Almost all of the over training injuries that you get in your foot involve an overwhelming inflammatory response that gets out of control.

Step four is damage control. You want to control that inflammatory response so it doesn’t get out of control because if it hurts because the tissue is distended and it really feels more swollen, then it’s going to hurt a lot longer if you let that inflammation continue and it gets out of control. You can apply ice, you can do contrast bath routine, you can use compression socks, you can elevate your feet, you can do the legs up the wall pose where you’re laying on your back with your feet up the wall, and you can try some stuff to see if it feels better.

If you wear cushy running shoes even in the house and it feels way better, then that’s a good thing. You should do that. But you need to figure out what you need to do to get the damage under control right away. Do the simple things you know that control inflammation but don’t take anti inflammatories unless it really hurts. If it really hurts and you feel like you have to take anti inflammatories to control the pain, you should probably talk to an expert, get it evaluated. 

But if it just feels like it’s a little bit injured you’re just worried about it, do some damage control. Get that inflammation under control and then see how you do the next day. But then the next day when you wake up, you’ll have tons of information already that you can use to compare what is really going on on day two after you get injured. That information is crucial to the evaluation process down the road as you continue running and continue to ramp up your training after and while you are healing the injury.

To print out your copy of the pain journal, Download here:

Runner’s Pain Journal

If you have a question that you would like answered as a future edition the Doc On The Run Podcast, send it to me, and then make sure you join me in the next edition of the Doc On The Run Podcast. Thanks again for listening!