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How to Prevent Arch Pain When Running

by Patty Weasler, RN July 14, 2021 0 Comments

Are you experiencing arch pain from running? For avid runners, this is commonly caused by plantar fasciitis which can be brought on by several issues like tight calf muscles, flat feet, or overpronation. If you’re looking to continue logging miles (without the arch pain), then these precautions are a must!

Why Does Running Cause Arch Pain?

Arch pain caused by running falls into two different categories.

Intrinsic Causes

These are factors that are related to your body that you can’t change, like having low or high arches and arthritis in your foot.

Extrinsic Causes

Extrinsic factors create arch pain while running. These typically stem from the shoes you’re wearing, how you run, and where you run. When you put excess pressure or strain on your feet you are setting your feet up for some serious pain.

Learn More About the Causes of Arch Pain

How to Reduce Arch Pain When Running

Runners need to take care of their feet and arches. One of the most common causes of arch pain is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot from your heel bone to your toes. Supporting this area is the best way to prevent arch pain. Take a look at our list of practical ways you can support your arch and reduce pain while running.

You Can Find More Arch Pain Remedies Here

Alternate Shoes

One way you can prevent arch and foot pain is to buy two pairs of shoes, different brands or models. Rotate wearing the shoes to prevent pressure on the exact same spot while you are running. On top of reducing arch pain, you’ll cut down your chances of developing blisters and other pressure injuries.

Don’t forget, when you’ve reached 350 miles or 6 months on a pair of shoes then it’s time to buy a new pair of running shoes.

Buy New Shoes

Wearing your shoes past their useful life or wearing unsupportive shoes while you aren’t running can set you up for some serious arch pain. Running shoes can only last so long before the tread and cushioning support start to wear down. When you are in the market for a new pair of shoes go to a local specialty running store for gait evaluation. They will look at how your foot strikes the ground and make suggestions about the type of shoe you need.

Kinesiology Taping

Oftentimes running injuries need several treatment modalities to eliminate pain. Kinesiology tape is a newer treatment that many athletes like to use. Kinesiology tape is a breathable, flexible tape that provides a small amount of support. It increases proprioception (body awareness), blood flow, and lymphatic drainage. Unlike athletic tape, it does not reduce joint movement.

Evaluate Your Foot Strike

Your foot strike is how your foot hits the ground with each step. Have someone trained in the biomechanics of running evaluate your foot strike, like a physical therapist or sports medicine doctor. They can see how your foot moves and make suggestions on changes you can make.

Wear Orthotics

Orthotics, or shoe insoles, are supportive inserts that you put in your shoes in place of the store manufactured insoles. They offer extra cushioning and arch support. You can buy over-the-counter orthotics or custom orthotics from your podiatrist. Custom orthotics can be very expensive, so we recommend going with a store-bought version first, and if that doesn’t provide the necessary support to then go with custom made.

Finding the Right Insoles

Stretch Before Running

Stretching increases muscle flexibility which will increase or maintain muscle length. Better flexibility leads to stronger muscles and reduces your risk of a foot injury. Muscle strength imbalances can also be a cause of arch pain. You can do at-home foot stretches and exercises. If symptoms don’t improve make an appointment with your local physical therapy office or doctor.

Stretching & Exercises for Arch Pain

Run On Softer Surfaces

The terrain you run on can affect your arches. Going from hard terrain like concrete to soft terrain like gravel pathways can decrease the amount of stress put on your feet with each foot strike. Check out your local city or state parks for softer running paths to try and change up your scenery while you’re at it.

Cross Train

Cross-training with cycling or swimming gives your feet a break but allows you to maintain your fitness levels. Replace one or two days a week of running with a different cross-training sport until your arches are pain-free. Not only will it protect your feet from further injury it’ll keep you interested in exercising while you’re injured.

Massage Feet Post Run

Massaging your feet after a run won’t just release all that built-up tension it’ll help your arches too. Massage increases blood flow, releases the feel-good hormones in your body, and releases built-up muscle tension and knots. Slowly begin by massaging the arch of the foot and work up your calf muscles. If you feel a muscle knot stop and apply gentle pressure until it releases.

TENS Therapy

TENS therapy stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. This small, mobile device transmits an electrical signal through adhesive patches placed on your skin. TENS devices can provide pain relief, improves blood flow, and eases muscle tension. While TENS therapy will not completely cure your arch pain, it will provide you the pain relief you need while you use other therapies like orthotics and massage.

Ice Your Feet

Ice is a simple and inexpensive way to reduce pain and swelling. The cold works as an anti-inflammatory and reduces blood flow and interrupts the pain signal. Place an ice pack over the soft tissue on the bottom of the foot. Use the ice pack for 20-minute intervals being sure to place a cloth or barrier between the ice and skin.

You Can Also Try Alternating Hot & Cold Therapy 

Preventing Arch Pain in Runners

Arch pain in runners can be caused by an overuse injury or from poor body mechanics. Try switching out your running shoes or use an orthotic for extra support. If you find that self-treatment doesn’t improve your symptoms in a couple of weeks then it’s time to reach out to your doctor for further guidance in resolving your arch pain.


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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.

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