Runners, how do I avoid this pain?

Beginning runner here. Well, not runner so much as jogg… no, wait, that’s not right. Beginning plodder here. It’s been a few months or so on the Indoor HappyFunTime Dante Simulator, and I’m trying to increase my speed bit by bit. At the moment I’m putting in an hour a day huffing along at about 4 MPH (well, the display claims I’m shuffling along at that speed. It’s a Norditrac, so I have a small measure of faith in it, but also a small grain of salt). I’d like to step up my pace (er, literally) and make it to 5+ MPH.

But I keep getting this dull ache in my instep that goes away if I either slow back down or stop for a second to stretch a bit (by pulling back (gently) on my toes). It never really comes back during the day, though at times it feels just a wee bit worked.

[Rhythmdvl’s Pain Simulator for the Curious] Stand on one foot, and bend the other leg at the knee. (There seems to be some cable or whatnot inside the leg that doesn’t compress much unless the knee is bent). Now, bend your foot towards you as far as you can (letting it turn a bit to the inside to avoid further compressing that ligamawhatchit may help). Bend it as far as it can go and hold it there (or a little further than comfortable). Eventually the instep will, I don’t know, heat up or something, and start to hurt. Now pick up the other foot (hahaha… I always wanted to find some place for that). Unless I’m totally out of whack, that should give you an idea of the discomfort I’m talking about.

Of course, the easiest thing to do when something hurts is stop. But that’s kind of the wrong way to go. I could just not push it, but I’m hoping to get my heart rate higher in the percentage o’ maximum.

Any idea what’s causing this? I figure it’s either something external (e.g., my shoes are on the wrong feet, the belt kinda slips on the treadmill) or some measure of overall feebleness on my part. If it’s the latter, are there exercises one can do? Hang kettlebells on my toes when I’m sitting at my desk? Kick things around the house? Up the speed in even smaller increments?



If by instep you mean under the foot at the back of the arch, that would be plantar fasciitis.

  1. ICE, ICE, ICE
  2. Find yourself a golf ball, baby food jar, something small and round that you can roll under your foot to massage the arch.
  3. Stretch your calves.

My wife has one of those…

Let’s talk about your shoes - how long have you had them? Did you buy them from a shop that specializes in running?

It could be that you’re wearing the wrong kind of shoes for your feet.

There is a following of people who believe running barefoot is best for your feet, unless you have a serious medical issue. Speaking for myself since I started running barefoot, my feet and legs feel stronger overall and all the pains I used to have in my ankle, knee, hip, and feet have faded or disappeared. Now, I can’t say for certain why that is; but it did occur after I made the transition. There are shoes out there that are designed to give you a barefoot type experience, but with some protection. Thin-soled shoes or Vibram FiveFingers come to mind immediately. Can’t say if it would work for anyone else, but I thought I would throw that out there for consideration.

Stretch your feet. Your treadmill could very well be out of alignment, need lubrication, or be loose; but I am not sure how that would be hurting your feet.

Oh no, I think I may have driven this off track (wow, who knew there were so many puns in this subject – you’d never run out of them). By “instep” I meant that area on the opposite side of your ankle. Imagine a stick figure drawing in an ell shape. The vertical is the leg, the horizontal is the foot. The inside of the corner, at the top of the foot (kind of where the shoelaces just start to go vertical on a boot) is what I’m calling the instep. Ouch.

:smiley: well, it is good for exercise.

I have a pair of NewBalance 620s. Not specialty runner-shoes, but they do come in wide widths (and I think they stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night). They’re a couple years old, but since regular plodding is relatively new (lots of fits and starts while we were quitting smoking) and I don’t wear them anywhere else, their tread is still around. By “right kind of shoes,” are we talking fancy-shmancy pricey things or “why are you running in clogs”?

Yikes… the thought of running barefoot on The Contraption is rather scary. I’d hate to get sucked down into the bowels of the thing and loose a leg. And running outside? 300’ of gravel driveway is something of a deterrent, and after that it’s just woods and pavement. I take it you have some mighty callouses on the bottoms of your feet?

It’s actually pretty easy on a treadmill, most of them are designed to have a little bit of give. The first couple times you may have to deal with running on some raw skin towards the end, but they harden up pretty fast after that. I had callouses on my feet anyways from playing hockey (never wore socks). Most people recommend a gradual transition to barefoot running (once every three sessions, first couple times on grass, etc.) but I just went straight into it. I think I will probably end up getting a pair of Vibrams to try since I am more concerned about glass or what not on the ground than the ground itself. Plus the ground gets awfully hot down here in AZ.

What does the pain feel like? Is it dull? Sharp? Inside the joint? It might just be flexibility or weakness, but I’m not sure.

Hijack: Did you get a chance to read my advice in the weight training thread?

I agree with this, even though you have modified your description of the location of the pain.

I would consult a sports med. doctor to have it diagnosed if you want to be sure.

Tread is a terrible way to judge a shoe’s age. It’s entirely possible that after so many years, all the innards (cushioning, etc.) are broken down. I would HIGHLY recommend you get a new pair of shoes. Any kind, really. Often that’s the easiest way to get rid of pain, so it might help you.

I pretty much melted at the “a couple years old”, by the way. :smiley:

We’re talking shoes designed for issues (stability, arch support, cushioning, alignment, other stuff that running store people tend to know, etc.). They may be more expensive, they may be less. But a good running store will watch you run in the shoes you bring in and several pairs of shoes in the store before recommending a couple to you. They’ll say something like “hmmm, Rhythmdvl, you overpronate.” And send you running around with several pairs of shoes until they see a gait that’s not going to hurt you in the long run and you say “these are comfortable.”

As for your current shoes, tread doesn’t matter as much as compression. After so many steps, the stuff in the heel doesn’t handle impact the right way anymore. At that point, you need new shoes.

Agreed with everyone else that a couple years is too old for a pair of running shoes. The treads may be fine but the arch support, impact cushioning, etc. has probably long since broken down. From personal experience, if my feet hurt in any way when I run, it means I should have replaced my shoes a couple months ago. I once had to stop running for six weeks because I developed impact-related fascitis in my heel, which wouldn’t go away even after I got new shoes. Last time I replaced them, my arches started hurting, like the muscles were being over-used, and after a couple weeks of that I’d get sudden and extremely tight charlie horses in both arches nearly every time I flexed my feet. (Which I do habitually when waking up – that sure got me awake fast…)

Re: running barefoot… I think that depends a hell of a lot on your feet. I over-pronate, and if I ran over a long period of time without footwear to correct for that, eventually I’d wreck my ankles. I need the arch support so I don’t roll too far. Plus, if you’re city-bound, most of your available running surfaces are going to be cement or asphalt, which is not going to be kind on your heels. If I can get heel problems through shoes (when even a broken-down cushion provides more impact absorption than nothing at all), imagine how much worse it can be without shoes.

Anyway, your instep may be hurting simply because it’s under stress trying to correct for some sort of roll in your gait, and is to the point where it spasms very easily. Go to a running store, have them fit you with shoes built for your particular gait. I’ve spent anywhere from $90-120 on a good pair of runners, but it’s so worth it, and mine last me about a year even under fairly heavy use.

I’ve been really happy with Fleet Feet, they train their staff in how to analyze your gait and pick the best shoes, but I dunno where you’re located, so there may not be one near you.

After you get new shoes, I’d still make sure to stretch your insteps very well before every run, since if the muscle has been tight for a while, it’ll probably take a couple/few weeks of not being under stress before the spasms completely go away.