Top 5 Causes of Foot Pain in Runners

Updated: Jan 21

We reveal the top 5 causes of foot pain which runners experience. This is based on our many years of experience at our Peterborough physiotherapy clinic. After this you will be able to diagnose your foot pain to identify the problem.

We will explore the following injuries:

1. Plantar Fasciitis

2. Metatarsalgia

3. Stress Fracture

4. Tendonitis

5. Ligament Injury

Each of the above problems is caused by different factors individual to you. The only way to resolve your problem is by addressing the cause of your pain. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Increasing speed, milage or distance too quickly.

  • Poorly fitting footwear.

  • Ineffective recovery.

  • Reduced core and hip strength.

  • Over-pronation.

Now we will explore the top 5 causes of foot pain in runners.

1. Plantar Fasciitis

Deep stabbing pain in the sole of the foot.

Pain in the morning.

Tightness in the foot.

All the above are common symptoms of plantar fasciitis. It often builds up over the course of a few weeks or months and can persist until treatment from a physiotherapist. The pain is caused by irritation to the plantar fascia, a tight band of tissue under the foot. For this condition it is unlikely you will need an x-ray or MRI scan as it is easily diagnosed. Ice and gentle stretching can help.

2. Metatarsalgia

Pain below the toes.

Pain following a long run.

Stiffness in the foot.

The above are common symptoms of metatarsalgia. This is where there is irritation to the head of one of the small bones within the foot called the metatarsals. It is caused by repeated stress to the bone which over time develops stress. Reducing your milage and changing footwear can offer relief.

3. Stress Fracture

Forefoot pain.

Pain running on hard surfaces.


These are all common symptoms of a stress fracture. This injury can affect many bones in the body but is most common in the lower limb, especially in runners. This injury should be diagnosed with a foot x-ray. If a stress fracture is confirmed you should stop running until the fracture heals, this can take months. In the mean time swimming or cycling is advised.

4. Tendonitis

Swelling around the foot.

Pain when moving the ankle.

Pain which increases as you run.

The above are all symptoms commonly seen with tendonitis at our physio clinic in Peterborough. This is where irritation to muscles causes the attached tendon to become inflamed and irritated. This injury often builds over time and the good news is you can carry on running, at a reduced rate. This injury typically responds well to treatment. Ice and changing your gait can also help.

5. Ligament Injury

Instability in the foot

Spraining your ankle

Pain running on uneven ground

These are all symptoms of a ligaments injury. This usually occurs when you twist the foot or ankle, common when running on uneven ground. The ligament becomes stretched and requires time to heal. Depending on which ligament you injure this can take weeks or even months. This injury rarely requires any scan. The best self treatments include gentle massage and strapping the foot.

We hope this has been useful for you and your foot. If you have persisting foot pain contact us now to book an appointment with our expert physios.

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