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Pain on the side of your foot while exercising can range from a mild discomfort to a severe and debilitating ache that requires medical treatment. It can occur for a variety of reasons, some that can easily be remedied by adjusting your exercise habits or environmental conditions. If the pain persists or worsens, however, consult your doctor.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Strains and Sprains
Exercise-induced foot pain can be the result of strains or sprains of the ligaments or muscles on the side of the foot. This type of injury develops when you stretch or tear muscles or ligaments due to sudden changes of directions or forcefully exerting yourself during exercise. It can also occur during strength-training exercises if you yank or drop a load of weights rather than move it in a slow and consistent motion.
Foot Pain in the Heel From Playing Soccer
Pain in the side of the foot can be due to a stress fracture 2. This type of injury occurs when your muscles become too tired due to frequent exercise, overexerting yourself or exercising for long periods at a time. As a result, the physical impact of exercise is absorbed in your bones rather than your muscles, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains 2. This can lead to small fractures or cracks in the bones of the feet. Some medical conditions, such as osteoporosis, can also weaken the bones and lead to stress fractures.
Pain on the side of the foot can be due to overuse — when you place excessive or repetitive stress on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and cartilage of the feet during exercise. You can experience overuse pain if you do not allow a 48-hour recovery time between working muscle groups, too rapidly increase exercise intensity or duration or suffer from a previous muscle or bone injury.
Some environmental factors can cause pain on the side of the foot during exercise. Inappropriate exercise attire, such as stiff or unsupportive shoes, ill-fitting socks or improper sports equipment can lead to foot pain, MassGeneral Hospital warns. Repeatedly changing the surface you exercise on, such as going from grass one day to a paved surface the next, can increase your chances of developing painful foot injuries. In addition, training errors or improper technique during exercise can lead to foot pain.
- Some environmental factors can cause pain on the side of the foot during exercise.
- In addition, training errors or improper technique during exercise can lead to foot pain.
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- The Merck Manuals; Approach to Sports Injuries; April 2009
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; Stress Fractures of the Foot and Ankle; July 2009
- MedlinePlus; Foot Pain; March 2, 2010
- Bito T, Tashiro Y, Suzuki Y, et al. Forefoot transverse arch height asymmetry is associated with foot injuries in athletes participating in college track events. J Phys Ther Sci. 2018;30(8):978–983. doi:10.1589/jpts.30.978
- Freedman BR, Gordon JA, Soslowsky LJ. The Achilles tendon: fundamental properties and mechanisms governing healing. Muscles Ligaments Tendons J. 2014;4(2):245–255. Published 2014 Jul 14. PMID: 25332943
- Tips to Keep Feet Warm and Cozy All Winter Long. Winter Foot Care. American Podiatric Association
- Park SY, Bang HS, Park DJ. Potential for foot dysfunction and plantar fasciitis according to the shape of the foot arch in young adults. J Exerc Rehabil. 2018;14(3):497–502. Published 2018 Jun 30. doi:10.12965/jer.1836172.086
- Petraglia F, Ramazzina I, Costantino C. Plantar fasciitis in athletes: diagnostic and treatment strategies. A systematic review. Muscles Ligaments Tendons J. 2017;7(1):107–118. Published 2017 May 10. doi:10.11138/mltj/2017.7.1.107
- Pita-Fernandez S, Gonzalez-Martin C, Alonso-Tajes F, et al. Flat Foot in a Random Population and its Impact on Quality of Life and Functionality. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017;11(4):LC22–LC27. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2017/24362.9697
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction. Sept 2017.
- Arthritis Foundation. Anatomy of the Foot.
- Mayo Clinic. Hammertoe and Mallet Toe. July 28, 2917.
Rose Erickson has been a professional writer since 2010. She specializes in fitness, parenting, beauty, health, nutrition and saving money, and writes for several online publications including The Krazy Coupon Lady. She is also a novelist and a mother of three.