Overuse Injuries: Wearing Out Your Feet

Learn about overuse injuriesBeing overworked is a problem that can affect all areas of life. The end result is a combination of emotional and physical exhaustion that can make you less effective at what you do, steal the joy from your hobbies, and make you prone to mistakes. Your body can become overworked, too, which can actually result in painful injuries. Overuse injuries in the feet and ankles are some of the most common sources of lower limb pain for athletes and non-athletes alike.

Defining Overuse and How It Happens to You

An overuse injury to your foot or ankle is any type of bone, muscle, or connective tissue damage that results from repetitive stress and trauma over time that isn’t able to heal. Because your foot keeps suffering from the same problem over and over again, the damage and resulting pain may start small, but increase over time. Typically these fall into two categories: “training” and “technique.”

Training errors relate to how much you are performing a particular action, whether in sports or in daily life. If you repeatedly do an action for too long, or with more intensity than your feet can handle, your lower limbs suffer strain and damage. Technique errors are problems with how your foot performs an action, like pushing off the ground or landing when you take a step. Done incorrectly, you can seriously strain your lower limbs’ tissues.

Common Overuse Injuries of the Feet and Ankles

There are many different injuries that can be the result of overuse in your feet and ankles. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Plantar Fasciitis – Too much pressure and strain on the feet over time can stress and over-stretch the plantar fascia band in your sole, leaving you with painful heels.
  • Stress Fractures – Repetitive hard impacts can slowly contribute to thin, painful cracks in your foot or shin bones when your feet become overworked.
  • Bursitis – Constant, repeated pressure on certain areas of your feet, particularly your heels, can inflame the protective bursa cushioning.
  • Metatarsalgia – Too much stress on the ball of your foot can cause aching and burning pain there, making it harder for you to walk.
  • Extensor Tendonitis – This is particularly common for runners. Overuse can strain the muscles and tendons on the top of your foot, causing pain whenever you have to flex.
  • Neuromas – Repeated pressure on or friction against nerve tissue can enlarge it and cause both sharp pain and numbness in that area.
  • Shin Splints – Running or other sports issues can strain the muscles in your shins over time, creating a burning sensation that only worsens the more active you are.

Combating Overuse

The specifics of treatment will vary from condition to condition. Our team at Podiatry Associates, P.C. will evaluate and diagnose your condition to determine exactly what your lower limbs need. In general, though, there are some basic treatments you can expect. You’ll need to rest your injured foot to allow the damage to repair itself. You may need to take steps to eliminate swelling and inflammation, like icing, wrapping, or elevating your lower limbs. You might need to make changes to your footwear and conditioning for your activities. Physical therapy stretching and exercises may benefit you as well.

Your feet and ankles need breaks and a little R&R, just like the rest of you. They work hard, every day, to keep you supported and mobile. Overuse is a common result when you don’t take care of them properly. Fortunately, it is generally avoidable and definitely treatable should it happen. Let our experts at Podiatry Associates, P.C. help you take care of your lower limbs and keep them healthy. Make an appointment online today with Dr. Oberholtzer-Classen and the team, or by calling (303) 805-5156 to reach our offices in Castle Pines, Parker, and Cherry Creek in Denver, CO.
Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC