Foot Pain During Exercise? Here’s What May Be Causing It

Exercising is one of the best ways to build strength and maintain your health—but it can sometimes come at a cost. Foot pain during exercise is a common occurrence that can result from issues like tendonitis, blisters, and bunions. 

Whether walking, running, lifting weights, or doing yoga, the feet bear a lot of weight and carry enormous responsibility for keeping you mobile. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that foot pain is some of the most common complaints from exercise that can greatly impactquality of life and athletic performance. 

Supporting your feet and ankles through strength exercises and stretching is one of the best ways to maintain mobile and healthy feet and avoid injuries. But if you’ve been struggling with foot pain and can’t figure out why, you’re in the right place. We’re going over some of the most common causes of foot pain during exercise and how to prevent it! 

Why Does Foot Pain Happen?

The feet are the foundation of your body and absorb a lot of force and impact during daily activities and exercise. High-impact sports like running and jumping can induce loads of up to ten times your body weight. Where is this weight absorbed? Muscles, tendons, and ligaments. But when these tissues become overworked or overused, injury usually results.

Some of the most common overuse injuries of the feet and ankles include:

  • Tendinopathies
  • Stress reaction
  • Stress fractures
  • Ligamentous injury
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Impingement syndromes

The 7 Most Common Reasons for Foot Pain During Exercise

Sometimes you land funny on your foot after a jump and feel shooting pain, while other times, foot pain results from a pre-existing condition. But in any case, many factors are involved in foot pain from exercise, ranging from footwear and genetics to body mass and type of exercise. But figuring out exactly where your foot pain is can help pinpoint the cause. 

Here are some of the most common reasons your feet are in pain.

1. Tendonitis

Tendonitis is a condition where the tendon—the thick fibrous cord attaching muscle to bone—becomes inflamed. It also comes with fluid buildup around the tendon of the foot, often resulting in pain in the ball of the foot. The most common reason for tendonitis to flare up isoveruse, but intense strain can also be the cause. Tendonitis will usually disappear after some time, but it can lead to issues with walking and running in the meantime. 

If you struggle with tendonitis, ensure all toes are working correctly before doing any strengthening exercises. Wearing proper shoes can also help to prevent tendonitis from occurring in the first place.

2. Bunions

Ever wonder what the bony protrusion on the side of your foot is? That is a bunion that commonly arises in women due to narrow toe-box shoes. When you wear shoes that don’t fit properly or are too tight at the toes, it puts pressure on the metatarsophalangeal joint (the joint connecting to your big toe). Depending on the progression of your bunion, it can cause pain in the big toe, issues with big toe mobility, and even a corn or callus on the bone below your big toe.

One of the easiest fixes for bunions is to avoid narrow shoes and opt for shoes with a wide toe box, but if you already have a bunion, using Toe Spacers regularly can help to realign your toes into the proper anatomical position and reduce pain. OurHallux Valgus (Bunion) Program is also a great place to start! It’s a non-invasive solution to increasing the big toe's range of motion, improving big toe function, and strengthening the overall foot to optimize function and reduce pain and discomfort.

3. Blisters

If you’ve ever popped on some new shoes and hit the gym or trail, you’ve probably had a blister at one time or another—and they can be downright painful. They happen when your feet rub against the inside of a shoe, irritating the skin. But they can also be caused by moisture and heat, common when the weather is hot or if you’re performing vigorous activity. Poorly fitting socks while running or training can also cause blisters, so the best solution is to lose the socks and train barefoot!

4. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS)

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome, or CECS, is another common cause of foot pain during exercise. It develops when there isincreased intracompartmental pressure within a fascial space, but the mechanism of why pain occurs isn’t known. Simply put, there is too much pressure on the muscles in your lower leg and foot during activity, which results in swelling and compression of the nerve and blood vessels in the area. 

Reducing the intensity of your workouts is usually the most common treatment for CECS, but massaging the area can also be beneficial.

5. Claw toes

Claw toes, sometimes called claw feet, are where the first toe joint points up and your second toe joint points down, forming a “claw.” This can be present at birth but can also develop at any time. For some, claw toes can be painful, while it presents no pain for others. 

Manual stretching of the toes can help claw toes, as can exercises like picking up marbles or crumpling a towel on the floor. 

6. Stone bruise

​​Also called metatarsalgia, a stone bruise can result from several things, including an underlying health condition, poorly fitted shoes, or high-impact activity. It is inflammation of the metatarsals that causes pain in the ball of the foot due to excessive pressure on the small bones of the foot. 

Changing your footwear is one of the simplest fixes for metatarsalgia; you can also strengthen the surrounding muscles with specific foot and ankle exercises.

7. Plantar fasciitis 

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot and ankle pain. It is a condition where the tendon that attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone becomes inflamed and painful. It typically results from overuse and leads to pain and stiffness in the calf, heel, and ankle. PF can also result from a change in activity level, abnormal structure or shape of the foot, exercising on a hard surface, or wearing improper footwear. 

Treating plantar fasciitis can sometimes be tricky, but we have just the thing for you—ourPlantar Fasciitis Training Program delivers long-term solutions to combating plantar fasciitis and strengthening the feet. 

But it doesn’t stop there. While these eight conditions may cause foot pain during exercise, several other issues can lead to pain. These include:

  1. Wearing the wrong footwear
  2. Skipping a warmup
  3. Lack of stretching before or after training
  4. Lack of foot stability and coordination
  5. Performing high-impact exercises or repetitive movements

Most people aren’t away that, just like the other muscles in your body, the muscles in the feet need stretching and strengthening to help you perform optimally. Without it, your feet become a major weak area, and you risk injury. 

But there’s a simple solution. Our products are designed to help build your strength from the ground up. Whether simple stretches with the EI8HTBALL or strengthening the toes and intrinsic foot muscles with the Toe Band or Toe Spacers, we’re here to help you build strong and mobile feet and ankles to maximize performance and minimize injury. 

How to Treat and Prevent Foot Pain During Exercise

Foot pain during exercise can be a massive pain in the butt, but there are easy ways to keep it from happening to you! 

1. Take time to rest

Rest is the best thing to do immediately if you’re experiencing acute pain in your feet. Follow the R.I.C.E. method—rest, ice, compression, and elevation—and allow your body time to manage the inflammation and avoid developing incorrect compensatory movements.

2. Manage the pain

If your tendon is tight, self-massage on the feet can be a great place to start. Roll out the tension using the EI8HTBALL or the Ripple Ball to stimulate blood flow, keep the aponeurosis flexible, and offer pain relief.

3. Change up your exercise routine

Foot pain can make completing a workout challenging, so it might be time to alter your training temporarily. To prevent further injury, consider more low-impact exercises that don’t add additional stress. 

4. Find the right shoes

Shoes greatly affect how well (or not well) the feet function. We talk a lot about the importance of proper foot function, and regardless of whether you have foot pain or not, wearing the right shoes plays a major role in preventing injuries, especially those of the ankle, knee, and hip joints. 

Not wearing proper footwear can cause the foot to become overstrained due to the constant stress of the additional work. Studies show thatlong-distance running can cause the shape of the foot to change, which affects the foot’s ball width and girth, arch height, and foot volume. That’s why finding a shoe that fits well is important. Heel pain and pain in the foot’s arch can be other issues with exercise that can be solved by choosing the right shoes and training the feet for strength and stability. 

5. Stretch and strengthen your feet

Yourentire body needs to be stretched and strengthened to maintain health and functionality, which includes your feet and ankles. You’d be surprised how many types of foot pain result from tendon stiffness—something stretching can easily solve!  

Not only does stretching prevent foot pain, but it also helps to prevent injury andimproves performance. There are several foot and ankle stretches that you can incorporate into your training routine to develop foot stability and coordination. 

To challenge yourself further, consider incorporating unstable environments into your training to enhance ankle and foot strength and stability. TheStability Trainer Pro is a unique tool designed to challenge stability training, improve joint health, strengthen feet and ankles, and tone the entire body.