Injury or Recovery?


Are your feet giving you trouble after the big race? How can you tell if it is an injury or normal recovery?

First, pay attention to where the pain is. Is one foot hurting or both? This is a good indicator on whether the discomfort is from an injury or normal recovery. If it is one foot then it is most likely an injury. However, if it is both, they should recover within a couple of days.

Pain and swelling on top of the foot is most likely a stress fracture, especially if it is only on one foot. If you suspect a stress fracture then stay off it. Any abnormal stresses on it can cause other problems or slower healing. I not only like to treat the stress fracture, but also go after the cause of why it happened.

Pain and swelling on the bottom at the base of the second toe can be a sign of damage to the ligament or joint capsule. This is important because it can result in a deformed cocked up hammer toe if left alone-not treating the cause. Therefore, if this occurs it is best to seek a professional because this is a sign of a biomechanical fault.

Pain and swelling on the achilles tendon or along the arch needs to be treated aggressively. This could be partial tearing of the tendons and if you wait and continue activity, the tendon could tear more. If ignored, it could result in a more chronic condition called tendonosis – instead of just a tendonitis – which takes a longer recovery time.

Plantar Fasciitis is common but not all heel pain is plantar fasciitis. Some say after two weeks, plantar fasciitis becomes plantar fasciosis. With plantar fasciosis, the fascia starts to degenerate which can lead to a much longer recovery time. Therefore, an aggressive treatment approach to plantar fasciitis is important such as strapping immobilization, functional orthoses, etc.

A few foot recovery tips after exercise:

There are certain shoes that are for post exercise which may help lead to a faster recovery time. Typically these shoes are very soft yet still have a good heel cup and support along all the arches. This helps improve blood flow providing faster relief.

A graduated compression sock could also help improve circulation. A graduated compression sock works like a funnel – narrower down and wider up. There is increased compression lower about the foot and ankle with sock gradually becoming wider as it goes up the leg. This makes it harder for fluid to get down the leg but allows fluid to easily come back up the leg.

You also want to watch for blisters. Open blisters expose the nerves and blood vessels which can lead to infection. ArchMasters has a wound healing gel that is only available to physicians and increases healing time much more so than traditional triple antibiotic ointments.

As many conditions can come about with simple walking to aggressive exercise and sport activity, it is important to distinguish if it is just a recovery or an actual injury. Symmetry and asymmetry sometimes help to distinguish such. If any doubt, seek professional help. A biomechanist can usually tell if there are functional or structural faults causing such pain.