Are you battling food addictions? Do peaks and valleys in your weight, moods, and health alarm you?
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It feels like a drunken construction worker with a bright yellow hard-hat dropped a huge red brick on the top of your foot. It’s a dull, nagging pressure wedged between your big toe and the center of your foot. Worst of all, its cause is a mystery. You haven’t upped your mileage or even done any speed work. The phantom ache is a strange Halloween ghost haunting the spaces between your metatarsals and phalanges.
Has phantom top of foot pain ever struck you after a barefoot run?
I had my first scuffle with Top of Foot Pain (TOFP) this summer. At first, I thought it was from increasing my mileage or from doing wind sprints, but as it turns out it was from something else.
What’s the real cause of TOFP?
The number one cause of Top Of Foot Pain is TERRAIN! Most unshod runners ignore terrain; instead they focus on mileage or kilometers. But terrain plays a HUGE ROLE in injury. 4.8 barefoot kilometers on a steep, rocky mountain trail is more likely to ignite TOFP or whip-up pain in your Achilles than an 8 kilometer run on flat, smooth asphalt.
When to See a Doctor?
If the Pain increases when you walk or run. If you have sharp, shooting pains. If it’s fractured, running on it will only increase the size of the fracture, which means longer recovery.
How to Treat TOFP?
Terrific Terrain Tips:
Avoid Stepping on small stones–especially on flat surfaces; they will pop pain into your brain and damage your foot. Stepping on small stones is the main cause of TOFP. Tiny pebbles push the foot apart and crack bone. It’s a good idea to wear sandals or minimalist trail shoes such as Merril Foot Gloves when running on uneven, rocky terrain.
Trees cover a multitude of sins. But leaves can be hell.
It was once said by an artist with an afro, “Trees cover a multitude of sins.” They do. But their brittle leaves conceal a deadly slew of treacherous sharp blades, dirty syringes, and filthy goop.
Don’t step into pain and misery this fall. Learn to spot the Top Dangers Lurking Under the Fallen Leaves.
Rusted Screws & Nails & Hypodermics
The curb is a magic magnet for the remains of backyard mechanics, lusty teenage lovers, and pock ridden junkis or cheap-ass diabetics who refuse to use sharps containers. The refreshing scent of wet pavement has glazed the sharp points of nails, screws, and metal shavings with a lethal dose of tetanus inducing rust. It’s not a bad idea to be up to date on your tetanus shots.
Slimy, Wet Rubbers, Minty, Brown Spit, and Squishy, Sticky Feces
Sleazy leaves hug the nastiest filth imaginable. A leaf that clings to the pavement in the breeze conceals a disgusting surprise.
Pain Pyramids & Rocks & Action Figures
Pain pyramids are arrowhead pebbles that have shaped themselves into stone spikes with a sharp point on every tip. Landing on them will blast a four letter bolt of pain from your toes through your mouth. Hitting a rock or hard packed plastic object with a naked foot usually isn’t too discomforting, until it turns into a seemingly inexplicable dull pain on the top of your foot or into a marble sized bruise in the ball of your foot, both of which will delicately embed an annoying ache in your foot–the same way listening to One Direction or Mit Romney effectively places an annoying ache in your brain.
What’s a barefoot runner to do?
Avoid stepping on raised leaves.
Trail Run instead of running on the streets.
Stay away from curbs and other drainage areas.
Wear —> Sandals or minimalist shoes when running on paved roads.
Be Current with Your Tetanus Shot.
Vote for Obama or help me move to France
The good news is that the universe has blessed most barefoot runner’s with an amazingly strong set of feet. Anyone who has spent a summer running barefoot on concrete will have a near indestructible hide on their sole. I have accidentally stepped on broken bottle shards, nails, and screws without injury.
May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you live with ease.
Isn’t it wonderful when people respond positively to your writing? I always enjoy interacting with readers. Here is a wonderful story I received from a reader. Enjoy.
Now I can run again.
My name is Jarod. And I’m writing to tell you about about how your website and barefoot running changed my life.
About five years ago, chronic back, knee, and heel pain was killing me. It got to be so bad that I started to HATE running. My doctor said that I was getting too old for running and that I should take up another sport like swimming or yoga. I quit running cold turkey and did some hot yoga instead. I strained some muscles from the yoga; so I took up swimming. Swimming was OK, but I kept getting ear infections, I ended up riding a bike. I was close to quitting biking because the pain in my ass was almost as bad as pain in my back from running.
Then I read Born to Run. I found your blog while I was searching for barefoot running blogs. I learned a lot about barefoot running and shoes from your posts. And I really enjoyed the section about learning to run without shoes.
I tried running without shoes, but my feet started to hurt all over. Then I took your advice and gave Invisible Shoes a try. They were just what I needed. My knee , back, and heel pain are gone.
I just wanted to thank you for the resources your blog provides. It was a real help to me. Thanks.
And now I take advantage for a SHAMELESS AD PLUG:
These Barefoot Shoes Saved my Sole and Got me to LOVE RUNNING AGAIN!
You’ve discovered the many wondrous sensory delights of experiencing the world without shoes. You enjoy tasting the many exciting textures beneath your toes,
but there’s this nagging tightness in your calf and some weird, tension and unpredictable pain in your heel. When you really think about it, you might also be experiencing some of the following symptoms:
A grating or cracking when you move your ankle.
Swelling, heat or redness at the base of your heel.
A bump on the tendon where it attaches to the heel.
When you pull your toes up, there’s some slight weakness.
You may notice that your Achilles feels stiff first thing in the morning.
What’s the Problem?
Achilles tendinitis is typically not related to a specific injury. The problem results from repetitive over-stressing to the tendon.
Insertion-Achilles Tendonitis / Bone spurs / Pump Bumps Achilles pain can strike barefooters at the base of heel. This form of Achilles ache is also known as “insertion tendinitis”. The spurs result from over stressing a popular foot ligament, the plantar fascia.
Extra bone growth where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone can rub against the tendon and cause pain.
What’s the Most Common Cause of Achilles Aches?
Chronic over-use. In the ridiculous world of barefooting acronyms this problem is dubbed TMTS (Too Much Too Soon). TMTS injuries afflict athletes who put too much stress on their bodies without adequate time for recovery. Here are some common causes of TMTS injuries:
Sudden increase in the amount or intensity of exercise activity—for example, increasing your BAREFOOT mileage without giving your body a chance to adjust to the new distance. YOU SHOULD TAKE SHOD MILEAGE WITH A GRAIN OF SALT.Just because you can run 10 miles in shoes, doesn’t mean you can run 10 barefoot.All barefoot mileage should be regarded as NEW TRAINING ACTIVITY.
Secondary CAUSE related to Primary CAUSE: Tight calf muscles—When calf muscles are given too much work, they become slackers and transfer load to the Achilles. BAREFOOT RUNNING WILL PUT YOUR CALF MUSCLES TO WORK. Even WALKING BAREFOOT will add STRESS to your CALF MUSCLES. You must allow time for recovery. MASSAGE tight calf muscles with a ROLLING PIN after BAREFOOT WALKING AND RUNNING. (See Below.)
Rolling pin to alleviate muscle aches, break scar tissue, and increase circulation
Rolling Pin Massage alleviates tightness in the calf and can lead to a speedy recovery from Achilles tendinitis.
How do I avoid Achilles Pain?
Monitor your training volume, intensity and frequency of training carefully. If my Achilles ache, all I have to do is check my training. For instance, last week they were aching a bit. Upon reflection, I realized that I had inadvertently added 7 extra barefoot miles. No wonder, they reacted a little.
It’s important to vary your stride when you run distances longer than 3 miles. One of the many benefits of running without shoes is ability to alter your stride on the fly.
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