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What Causes Pain in the Arch of Your Foot After Running?

Foot arch pain is a common problem that runners have. Common though it may be, there is nothing normal about it. Find out in this article what the causes are.

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By Babafemi Adebajo
Shir Lapidot
Edited by Shir Lapidot

Updated January 2, 2023.

Foot pain is never a good thing. Certainly not pain in the arch of the foot after running. Yet, it is a common challenge among runners, and rightly so. Runners depend so much on their feet that they often injure them.

Is Foot Pain After Running Normal?

There is nothing normal about pain at any time. If you experience throbbing or sharp pain in the arch of your foot after running or walking, it could be due to several reasons, such as the athlete's mechanical form, technique, equipment, and general body state. If you notice pain in the inner or outer arch of your foot after running, take some time to determine the cause and address it promptly.

Common Causes of Arch Pain after Running

The following are some of the most common causes of arch pain after running:

  • Plantar fasciitis Plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation and pain in your plantar fascia that usually develops gradually over time. The plantar fascia is responsible for maintaining arch height when you place weight on your foot. Athletes or those wearing shoes with a raised heel are prone to developing plantar fasciitis.
  • Arch irregularities Those with flat feet or high arches can experience pain in their arches during or after running due to the increased strain placed on their arches.
  • Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction This tendon also helps to support and maintain your arch as you shift your weight during walking and running activities. Weakness of this tendon can lead to pain in your arches and even loss of arch height in severe cases.
  • Supination Also known as rolling your ankles outward, supination is commonly seen in those with high arches where increasing pressure is placed onto the outer aspect of the foot. Without adequate arch support, this pressure can result in pain.

Some factors can potentially aggravate existing arch pain, such as:

  • Weight gain
  • Aging
  • Overuse
  • Neurological conditions
  • Physical stress

As such, if you have pain in the arch of your foot after running, you must factor in these aggravating factors and seek to reduce their influence.

How to Relieve Arch Pain from Running

  1. Orthotics Orthotics are an effective, affordable, and long-term solution to manage arch pain while running. More specifically, custom orthotics for running that are designed for your feet and your needs support your arch, lessen the strain placed on your arch muscles, effectively distribute your weight throughout your feet, and increase comfort through cushioning and shock reduction.
  2. Foot stretches Stretching the muscles in the soles of your feet as well as your calves are helpful in reducing inflammation and relieving pain in your foot arches. There are a variety of different exercises you can follow to stretch these muscles effectively.
  3. Arch strengthening exercises Specific exercises to strengthen your arch muscles and the posterior tibial tendon, as well as stabilizing exercises of the lower leg muscles are helpful in preventing arch pain. Specifically, toe crunches by using a towel underneath your foot and pulling the towel back with your toes are effective.
  4. Rest Resting between running activities and allowing time for your foot muscles to recover can help reduce pain in your arches. You can also use ice to reduce inflammation further.

When Should You See a Doctor for Arch Pain?

Normally, arch pain occasionally is not out of place. When this happens, rest, soaking the feet in hot water, and massage can easily bring relief. However, if the pain persists, doesn't respond to home remedies, worsens, or becomes frequent, it's time to visit your doctor.

Arch pain can be the sign of another underlying condition or progress to more serious foot conditions. Talking to a doctor can help you find out what the case truly is so it can be addressed as such.