4 Common Foot Injuries That Plague Athletes

Foot Pain Causes: Plantar Fasciitis & Metatarsalgia

The plantar fascia is a connective tissue that runs from your heel bone (calcaneus) through the arch of your foot to the toes. It helps support and protect the bones of your feet. When it becomes inflamed or damaged, it causes pain in one or both feet. These two conditions are called plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia respectively.

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms:

Pain in the bottom of your foot that does not go away with rest or treatment. You may have numbness or tingling in your lower legs, but these symptoms do not occur when you walk normally. Your foot may feel hot to touch and painful to walk on. You may experience swelling, redness, heat loss and/or pressure around the area where the inflammation occurs.

Metatarsalgia Symptoms:

You may have pain in your top half of your foot, which usually starts at the big toe and moves down to the other toes. The pain is worse when you stand up straight. You may also experience aching or burning sensations in the affected areas. If left untreated, this condition can cause permanent damage to your feet.

What causes these injuries?

Plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia are common foot conditions that result from overuse or trauma (such as stubbing your toes). These conditions can also occur after a sudden increase in training or exercise. Any activity that involves running, jumping, or dancing can contribute to plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia. Repetitive stress to the feet also places you at risk from this condition.

Both conditions cause pain underneath your feet. However, they each have different causes and symptoms. For example, plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia). This tissue tends to get inflamed because it is stretched too far or strained due to sudden increase in exercise, jumping or running.

Metatarsalgia, on the other hand, causes pain in the ball of your foot. It occurs when you put too much pressure on your metatarsals (the bones in the ball of your feet) or when you stub your toes. These types of injuries are common in runners who over-pronate (flat feet).

What are the treatment options?

There are different treatment options for plantar fasciitis, including:

Resting your feet

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Applying ice packs

Elevating your feet

Taking anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve)

Wearing shoes with good arch supports and heel cups to support your feet and absorb shock.

Wearing night splints to stretch your plantar fascia (this may help relieve pain and increase your arch height)

Physical therapy

Maintaining a healthy weight. Excess weight puts more stress on the plantar fascia


Surgery is only recommended in extreme cases where nothing else works. However, surgery should only be used when all other methods have failed.

Sources & references used in this article:

Common injuries and medical problems in singles figure skaters by EB Porter – Current sports medicine reports, 2013 – journals.lww.com

Descriptive epidemiology of collegiate women’s volleyball injuries: National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System, 1988–1989 through … by J Agel, RM Palmieri-Smith, R Dick… – Journal of athletic …, 2007 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Dermatologic disorders of the athlete by BB Adams – Sports Medicine, 2002 – Springer

Maximizing performance and the prevention of injuries in competitive athletes by WA Scott – Current sports medicine reports, 2002 – Springer