Foot Pain when Running: Is It Serious?

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Foot pain from running can happen due to the surface you are running on, your running form, and your running gear. You can experience foot pain due to overuse injury, certain medical conditions that affect your muscles, bones, ligaments, or tendons. Lastly, your foot will hurt if your running plan involves training that is too intensive for your current form. Runners aren’t strangers to things such as foot pain, or soleus muscle pain when running.

However, foot pain when running is usually nothing to worry about too much, but it is also not something you want to neglect. Don’t leave it unchecked if it gets in your way. 

If you’re asking Why does my foot hurt when running? Check your running shoes, running form, and the terrain you are using. If those check out, look into the following medical conditions, and consult a medical professional.


Tendonitis means your tendon is swollen and inflamed. It is a common cause of top-of-foot and bottom of foot pain when running. Tendonitis pain is concentrated in the middle of your foot and off to the instep. This muscle runs close to your shin so it is sometimes accompanied by shin split pains.

Soothing of tendonitis plains usually involves reducing the inflammation. In other words, your go-to methods are:

  • Icing
  • Rest 
  • Over the counter anti-inflammatory painkillers
  • Red light therapy

In most severe cases, your doctor may recommend physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, or even surgery.

Stress fracture

Too much stress can cause a tiny tear in your bone tissue. This usually happens in one of the foot’s metatarsal bones. You’ll normally feel pain on the top portion of the bone and in a very specific spot. The pain can start out mild and gets worse if you keep running.

It takes roughly six to eight weeks to heal and like many running injuries, stress fractures are often treated with rest, icing when flaring up, compression, and elevation. Rest is the most important factor here. Running too soon can cause the tear to spread and get worse.

You can prevent this type of injury by gradually increasing speed and mileage and making sure your running shoes are suited for the terrain you’re running on. If you do increase your mileage or speed you can use red light therapy and proper nutrition to support your progress and precondition your body to successfully endure additional intensity.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation of the tissue on the bottom of your foot – the plantar fascia. You may feel pain in your heel bone or in the arch of your foot. Usually, the pain occurs after a period of rest. So, in the morning when you get out of bed or after sitting still for a long time, you may experience pain even though you weren’t physically active.

You can get yourself a foam roller to massage the area, and stretching helps as well. You could also roll a ball under your foot. 

To enhance the results of other therapies and methods, you should look into using a portable red light therapy device to promote injury healing.

Heel Fat Pad Syndrome

This is sometimes an overlooked cause of foot pain when running. Fat pad syndrome is similar to plantar fasciitis, only the discomfort is focused around the middle of the heel. The fat pad is there to cushion your heel and absorb the impact shock caused by walking, running, and jumping.

Fat pad syndrome happens due to overuse or strain caused by running. It can develop because your posture is off, running on hard surfaces, or ignoring plantar fasciitis.

If your heel feels bruised, feels tender when you press it, or you feel a lot of pain when you walk on hard surfaces then it’s time to get a diagnosis.

Treatment can include heel cups, exercises to stabilize your heel, massage, taping, padding your shoes, and red light therapy to speed up the healing process.

There are some similarities between plantar fasciitis, fat pad syndrome, and other foot pain. Here is a useful video about how a medical professional will differentiate them, and some treatment suggestions:


This condition is an irritation of the tendons, cartilage, or muscles around the five long bones of your foot. The area around your metatarsals can get irritated and inflamed when you run.

Meatarsalgia can happen if your running technique involves too much contact or irregular contact with the ground. The impact caused by all that contact can damage those bones and irritate the metatarsals.

You can get metatarsalgia from ill-fitting shoes, running too much without recovering properly, weak muscles in your foot, or even the specifics of your foot anatomy.
Symptoms include:
  • ball of foot pain when running
  • shooting/stabbing pain in the arch of your foot
  • pain when flexing your foot
  • tingling or numb feet
  • having a hard time walking after a long run

Metatarsalgia is treated as a fracture – rest and limiting activities that hurt, ice and compression, slowly starting stretching exercises, going cycling or swimming instead of running, and strengthening exercises.

Posterior Compartment Syndrome

This condition can be acute or chronic. If it’s acute, it’s an emergency and should be treated immediately. A case of acute posterior compartment syndrome is almost always related to an injury that needs attention. Chronic posterior compartment syndrome is not an emergency and is usually caused by overexertion. 

Posterior compartment syndrome occurs where pressure from swelling or bleeding builds within parts of your muscle. This pressure limits blood flow to those parts of your muscle, which then stops oxygen from getting to your nerves and cells. 

You might feel things like calf shin/pain, numbness in your foot/calf when you run, a tight or pressure-like sensation in your calf, bumps inside the shin, or a feeling of tenderness in that area.

Posterior compartment syndrome should be treated by a professional.

Many of the foot pain causes are treated the same way – rest, gradual exercise, and different forms of physical therapy. Resting will prevent further injury and promote healing. 

Gradual exercise will help with strengthening muscles, allowing them to support the surrounding tissue and take over some of the exercise impacts. 

Physical therapy will help soothe the foot pain when running and speed up proper recovery. Another thing you can do to help your body deal with this pain, healing, and possible inflammation is to use your portable red light therapy device.

Red light can help you with the pain, but it can also reduce inflammatory processes. Regardless of the cause of your pain, there is a red and near infrared light therapy mechanism that helps your body deal with it.

FlexBeam is convenient for foot issues because it is so flexible you can use it to reach otherwise difficult to reach parts of your foot. You can place it below both of your feet, but you can also wrap it around your heel or place it along the top of your foot. FlexBeam can be a powerful support to your system in many ways. Discover how to make the most of it.