Outside of Foot Running Injury

Ah, the joy of injuries. And of course they’re always running injuries. Well, except for that time I pulled a muscle in my arm swimming. Have I had a biking injury? I don’t think so…although I have almost been killed once or twice by cars, perhaps.

The latest running injury is to the outside of my right foot. It happened during my recent marathon. I didn’t notice it at all during the race, but immediately afterwards the right side of my right foot, or the outside of my right foot, started to hurt–a lot. So much so that although I had plenty of things hurting below my waist, what caused me to limp more than anything as I walked to our car to drive home was the pain in the outside of my right foot. When I say “outside” let me get more specific.

It doesn’t hurt on the bottom, it hurts more on the top. You could think of it as the exact opposite side of the foot from the arch. It’s on the top, maybe a little bit on the side, but definitely not on the bottom. It’s not right below the ankle, but a little ways forward of the ankle. And sometimes it sort of runs from that area of the top-outside of my foot to my ankle. Sometimes it feels as though the pain is going through my ankle, or like my ankle is crushing something.

There has been no swelling, no bruising, and there is zero pain when the foot is not in use. That is, I only feel pain if I get up and walk around, but if I’m sitting there is no pain, even if I put weight on my foot or toes. I’ve had enough broken bones to believe this isn’t a stress fracture. I’m pretty sure it’s just a strained tendon/ligament/muscle.

A long distance runner friend of mine asked me if I ran the marathon on the side of the road. I told him yes, since the marathon was almost entirely run on the right sides of roads. He told me this was the issue that had caused the injury, since the right side of the road tends to slope downwards, making your running uneven and forcing your right foot to the right each time you step.

Just think of your foot stepping on the ground as you’re running. Imagine you’re looking at your foot from the rear of it. Each time you step, you would ideally land on your toes, more or less flat on the ball of your foot, or slightly on the inside. But if the ground slopes to the right, then each time your right foot comes down, it touches down on the inside, but as your full weight is applied it falls to the right side, or outside of your right foot, putting extra strain on outside of your right foot as it sort of “rolls” that way. This would also put extra strain on the connection between that part of your foot and your ankle, should something be there to connect the two.

If that’s what happened, then fair enough, I know what cause the problem. But if it hasn’t gone away after a week and a half of rest, then how do I get it to heal, can I keep running and have it heal at the same time, and how do I make sure this doesn’t happen again? Sounds like it’s time to call my physical therapist.


Ok, Jonathan said he couldn’t tell me exactly what it was without examining it, but this was his advice:

1. Stretch that area of the foot by lifting the foot off the floor/ground, pointing the toe, and moving your toes in a circle or “roll” your foot around. It’s true that I do feel something there when I do this.

2. Ease into running again. He didn’t say to stay away from running, but to avoid overdoing it. He said it might take a few runs and a bit of stretching to get rid of the pain.

3. If it’s still hurting a week from now, make an appointment and come get it worked on.

If I were rich, I’d move #3 to the top of the list, but since I’m not I’ll follow his advice and hope for the best.

  • Darrell

    Perhaps you should do elipticals for a while to keep the stress of running off of your foot…Like I’m actually an expert or anything…LOL

  • Joshua

    Well, there are those who are experts who I’m sure would give me the same advice, but I went with the physical therapist’s advice. I stretched it a bit yesterday and today, and then this morning I did a 1.5 hour bike ride (on a trainer) and then since the snow cleared up a bit (what’s with snow on April 30th?!) I went out running. I figured I might make it for 10-15 minutes, if that, but I actually ran almost a full hour and my foot didn’t hurt at all! And that’s despite it still being sore this morning just walking around. In other words, it hurt less running than it did walking. So it looks like the PT was right, that I just needed to work it out a bit.

  • Sarah

    Hi Joshua,

    I was wondering how this worked out for you? I have the same problem and the pain was terrible after a 9 mile run yesterday but worse walking on it after rather than on the run itself, although I did have to stop at one point during the run when I had a shooting pain through the area. I had, had the same problem 2 weeks previously, but like you mentioned, this pain only occured the day after a long run. I waited a week for the pain to go before I ran again – two runs with no pain and then this pain was a lot worse yesterday. I have recently found a new running route and this does involve a section with a slope on the left hand side (injury is on the left foot) and this part of the route is where I felt the first twinge yesterday.

    I am hoping to see someone tomorrow about it as I hate the thought of not being able to run at all but my symptoms are all the same as yours so I wondered how you got on?