Metatarsalgia

For about the last 3 months I’ve had running induced pain in my foot. This is called metatarsalgia, which literally means “my foot hurts”. My running frequency has generally been down to about once a week or less and it’s still not really improving. I’ve drifted between various different things with no success. Online resources are predictably useless and mostly point towards structural problems with the foot, which seems unlikely since I have been running for years with no problem and one day it suddenly struck with no warning, or they say it’s just overuse which is ridiculous at less than five miles a week. More likely it’s some muscle problem that affects how I land/transfer my weight/push off.

The general pattern is that I run on it, it’s fine, and then the next day the ball of my foot (mostly towards the outside) feels sore/bruised/sensitive to weight and sometimes feels like I’m standing on something. This persists for a few days, goes away with rest, then comes back after I next run.

Recently I have had a bit of a revelation in that I noticed the pain is directly eased with calf stretching. It’s taken me a long time to realise this, because the standard foot-flat-on-the-floor stretches don’t really hit it, it’s only when I hang off a step. This relieves the pain when it’s already set in, we’ll have to wait and see whether it stops it from hurting in the first place. Overall I have had a reduction in pain while keeping my running constant (but low), but progress is slow.

The question is: why do calf muscles get tight from running? I have started doing regular weighted calf raises in the hopes that a bit more strength will help them out, but as my calves are kind of huge anyway I’m sceptical they need more strength. Maybe I should be strengthening the antagonist muscle instead.

A possibly interesting point is that I occasionally get cramp in the same foot, along the arch towards the inner side of the heel, when doing some standing lifts like an overhead press.

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