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5043 Views 5 Replies Latest reply: Mar 25, 2011 3:14 PM by Runningcolorado
GoldCay Rookie 4 posts since
Mar 23, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Mar 23, 2011 11:39 AM

Cause of arch pain?

I have been running for a while, but stepped up my distances in the last 18 months.  Completed first 1/2 marathon in Dec 2010 (2:04) and pacing about 5:07 per km now.  I have been having consistent discomfort in my arches, mainly my right foot.  From what I can tell, it's not my plantar fascia as I have no heal pain.  It's mainly on the inner side edge of my arch - highest point without end up on the top of my foot.  I do lots of massage and have orthotics, but the nagging muscle discomfort just doesn't go away.  It's pretty localized the midfoot range of that arch... any suggestions?  I really don't want the answer to can't run anymore!  I also get lots of foot/toe cramps... no idea if they are associated or just due to the consistent heat that I run in.



  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,541 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Mar 23, 2011 6:32 PM (in response to GoldCay)
    Re: Cause of arch pain?

    There are a number of muscles and tendons in that area.  I'm no expert, others here can give much better information.  This picture gives you some idea.  Pain from plantar fasciitis usually is mostly on the bottom of the foot.




  • Ezrida Amateur 25 posts since
    Feb 1, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Mar 24, 2011 2:52 PM (in response to GoldCay)
    Re: Cause of arch pain?


    The plantar fascia is a ligament connecting the heel bone to the toes. Plantar fasciitis is usually an inflammation of the plantar fascia. Therefore the pain can be anywhere across the fascia, although we tend to injure the fascia near the heel.

    I am running and I am dealing with plantar fasciitis for more than a year now. There are many things you can do to treat your PF although I understood that treatment efficiency is very individual. If something works for one it may not work for the other.

    Try plantar fasciitis taping - I have found it very useful. Taping will keep your foot from getting injured again and will help you get through your daily routine. There are a few Taping techniques you can find.

    I had to take a rest but never really stopped running. So I think that first of all you should take a professional diagnosis.

    Try more swimming and riding a bicycle if you don't run. I used to run and I got plantar fasciitis so I started to swim and cycle. Today I’m better with my PF so I ended up as a triathlete. Last summer I have finished my first triathlon... Thanks.


    Take care & Good luck

  • JamesJohnsonLMT Legend 1,291 posts since
    Aug 23, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Mar 25, 2011 12:46 AM (in response to GoldCay)
    Re: Cause of arch pain?

    Well, there are a few things it could be, and you've provided a  number of clues to follow up. First of all, problems with your upper  calf muscle (Gastrocnemius) has long-arch pain as a primary symptom.  This becomes more likely when you indicate the arch pain does not  respond to direct massage of the foot. Try working the upper rear calf  muscle a couple inches down from the knee and slightly to the inside for  starters, and do it sitting down.You need to spend a  minute or  two  letting down the upper attachments of the Gastroc on the femur  bone, to  relax and soften the muscle a bit before digging in. You do  this  simply   by bending the knee, and sitting down is a  great way to do   that. It  also  gets your hands in closer to your work.


    If  you don't  get results after a few times a day, over  a few days, of  this therapy, try running without the orthotics. Many orthotic inserts,  even prescription ones, have been found to be counterproductive. There  are different foot types that respond differently to a given type of  orthotic, even if it is custom made  for   the shape of your foot. In   addition, from the head and upper body on down through the hips, knees,  and ankles, there are differing gait patterns that require a matching   foot plant. Your orthotics may  not be matching the way your foot wants   to move. Ditto for the shoe  type, which may be too restrictive.


    At   this time it is important to point out that "plantar fasciitis" is  really a  catch-all description  of a collection of symptoms. It is   rarely a root cause or  object disease, but subject to the many  combinations of  aforementioned influences on pain at the bottom of the   foot. This is why it is so difficult to solve, especially by treating   the symptoms alone. It can  be  like trying to find the entrance to a   maze by working backwards  from  the exit - very difficult. When I   mentioned  the calf muscle, do you notice that I went far from the   symptom to an  apparently unrelated  area? This is because of the  phenomenon of  "referred pain," in which  pain  symptoms manifest away  from -sometimes far away from - the actual source.


    Lastly,  you mentioned toe cramps. Cramping anywhere can portend potential  muscular dysfunction elsewhere, so there is a supporting cast of   muscles   to check that are once again, not in the foot itself. Your   body has many redundant muscle groups, as back-up systems, to support  each other's functions. While there are  muscles near the toes for   moving the toes, there are also more powerful muscles far up both  sides  of the calf  that move the same toes  via long skinny tendons. The  tendons are  tough and rarely fail, but  the muscles they serve are  frequently at  less than  100%.


    If  your toes are   cramping upward, start  by  working between the bones near the top of  your foot, just below the ankle, and gradually work your way down,   still between the bones where  the muscles hide for safety. Now move up  to the outside center of your lower leg  (shin-splint area), where  deeper muscles control the toes. You may be  able to find exactly where  they are by extending your toes upward off  and on, and feeling  the  shin for the flexing muscle as you dothis, in  order to locate it. This  is especially important if you have difficulty lifting the toes to clear  the ground or stairs when they are cramping.


    If  your  toes are cramping downward, sometimes just rolling a golf ball under  your foot will help, but up the back of your calf slightly toward the  inside are the small toe flexor muscles that can lock the  toes into a  cramp (big toe muscle toward the outside, on the fibula bone - yes, they  cross sides for leverage).  Once again, you can find them by briefly  flexing the toes downward  while probing the rear calf  with your  fingers for the flexing muscle.


    That's probably good  enough for starters, although there is more to explore. Personally, I  got better results by removing my arch supports, which were starving my  plantar muscles of oxygen-rich blood flow, and replacing my orthotics  with a quarter-sized plug of mole-foam stuck under the ball of my foot,  underneath the insole. This can correct a common foot motion error, and  won't hurt to try.


    Don't forget that cramping and  muscle function of all kinds benefits from  proper electrolyte  management, which for many (Westerners especially) involves greater  intake of magnesium, best sourced from dark leafy greens. Iceberg  lettuce is little more than a vehicle for dressings, unfortunately.  Potassium from oranges, bananas, etc., can help too. Sodium and Calcium  are generally well represented in our diets, but it doesn't hurt to  check. Make sure you are getting some unfiltered sunlight at mid-day to  assure natural Vitamin D production in your skin, or anything else your  doctor recommends if you are deficient like most of us this time of  year. It will improve muscle function across the  board.


    Perhaps  the most  important  clue, is  that you have been gradually increasing  your mileage, and you  hint that your pace may also have picked up. Both  of  these together, can  make your legs surrender long before your will  to  run has flagged. You will adapt in time, but don't run, at least  not so aggressively, through injuries, and have patience. Most people,  if  they stick with it, continue to improve for 10 years or so after  they start running, regardless of age. Besides, there is recent medical  evidence that speed and mileage are not a good combination for the   heart long term. It's   better to run short and fast together, and if   you must run long, to take   it easy.


    One thing you  did  not mention is the kind of footwear you use the rest of the day.  Elevated heels will aggravate, even cause, the symptoms you describe.   Good luck troubleshooting this problem. The community here will be   looking out for you, ready to celebrate when you succeed!


    Here is a link to a popular interactive muscle troubleshooting tool...

  • Runningcolorado Expert 50 posts since
    Mar 4, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Mar 25, 2011 3:14 PM (in response to GoldCay)
    Re: Cause of arch pain?

    GC, please know that I am not an expert. But, I've had plantar fasciitis more times than I can count.  None of those times did I have pain in my heel.  It was ALWAYS in my arch. It's just the structure of my feet that causes me to get it only in my arch.


    I have found that rolling the arch over a frozen rolling pin 3 or 4 times a day helps.  I also pull back on my toes with a towel giving the PF a good stretch several times a day.  Both these things are painful, but they work.  Calf stretches help stretch and strenghen the PF (and arch) as well. Also, there are over the counter NSAIDs to help w/the inflammation (but, please do not take anything unless/until you discuss w/your dr. first).


    I haven't had pain in my arches for some time now.  I strengthen them by picking up small objects (bits of paper, marbles, etc.) from the floor w/my toes. I've heard of throwing a bath towel on the floor and picking it up w/your toes works as well.  Be sure that you're wearing the right shoes for your feet. A good running shoe store should be able to help you choose the right shoe.


    I wonder if the cramping in your toes/foot is as a result of you over-compensating for the pain in your arch by changing the way your foot strikes the ground.  I say that b/c I tend to run more on the outside edge of my foot when my PF is hurting, which then causes a little soreness in my ankles.  I don't recommend you do that.


    I will not tell you to stop running.  But, please let me share my experience w/continuing to run w/PF.  I did not stop running when my arches got sore.  It wasn't until I woke up one morning w/a huge funky colored goose egg in the arch of my right foot that I realized that I should have stopped running for little a bit.  The tiny tears in my PF had leaked fluid under the skin. Yes, it was extremely painful.  Luckily, this time, the PF had not ruptured (as can happen when there's too much tearing or weakening of the PF tissue).  I had to stop running for about 4 wks. for that to heal.  My dr. told me that he knew I loved running so he wasn't telling me to stop running.  However, he said, immediately upon feeling that initial discomfort in my arch to cut my miles down by 40 to 50% for two weeks (longer if the tenderness was still there).  He said either you can rest it by choice for a short time when you first get the symptoms, or you WILL rest it later for a longer period when the choice is no longer yours.  I then got why it's important to not run when the symptoms persists.  GC, your feet are whispering at you now.  Later, they will be shouting.  Please listen to them.


    I hope this helps a little.  Good luck to you.

    Live, love, run

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