Pain In The Ball Of The Foot When Running

Pain In The Ball Of The Foot When Running

No matter how experienced a runner you are or what your level of fitness is, there is always a risk of developing foot pain when running. Afterall, it is an activity that puts your feet under a great deal of stress and strain as they hit the ground, time after time, under different conditions and in different positions.

Furthermore, feet are complex and multifaceted with many elements that are open to injury or irritation. Your feet may be relatively small compared to the rest of your body, but they are comprised of over one hundred different tendons, ligaments, and muscles, thirty-three joints, and twenty-six bones! 

It is important to look after your feet when you are running towards personal bests because pain can bring your plans to a grinding halt. At Optimise Health, we can help take care of your foot health and improve pain in the balls of your feet.

What Factors Can Cause Pain In The Ball Of The Foot?

Because the foot is such an intricate body part, there are many reasons and underlying factors that can cause and contribute to pain in the ball of your foot.

Some issues that be responsible for the pain when running include the following:

  • Having tight calves can mean that you spend more time on the ball of your feet during the action of running. This can lead to increased pressure on the area.
  • If your hip extension is not effective, it can cause you to push off the ground with the ball of your foot to compensate. This may be due to weak or tight hips.
  • Running with incorrect techniques can result in pain. For example, many runners push off the ball of their foot as they run. However, the sensitive elements that make up that area of the foot cannot deal with that amount of strain. Another form issue is over-rotating your foot, also known as over-pronation, which can also lead to pain.
  • Using inappropriate footwear is a common contributor to foot issues. Shoes that are too narrow, for example, do not let your feet move freely yet supported when running.

What Conditions Can Foot Pain Be A Sign Of?

Strain and injuries can lead to a range of conditions. Our qualified and experienced podiatrists, physiotherapists in Toowoomba or Warwick, and exercise physiologists can assess your feet and identify what is causing the pain.

Conditions that can cause pain in the ball of the feet include:


This condition involves the metatarsal heads where the toes meet the rest of the foot. Discomfort and inflammation can be mild, but left untreated only becomes extremely painful and reduce mobility.

Morton’s Neuroma

Sometimes, the tissue surrounding one of the nerves that leads to your toes can become thick. This can form a sharp and burning pain, and can create a sensation like you are stepping on a pebble.

Stress Factures

Running does involve repetitive actions and consequently, stress fractures, which are small cracks in the bone, may occur. Factors that can compound the issue related to the repetitive nature of running, include a lack of sufficient rest, running too much too soon when beginning, running on uneven ground, improper technique, inappropriate footwear, and poor bone strength and density.

What Can Help Improve Pain At The Ball Of The Foot?

Some methods to improve the pain in the ball of the foot, dependent on the underlying factors and causes, can include the following:

  • Stretching and strengthening contributing areas such as the feet, calves, and hips.
  • Adjusting the distribution of weight on your foot as you run.
  • Using correctly fitted, appropriate footwear.
  • Applying ice or heat.
  • Strapping or wearing a brace or cast.
  • Resting the foot.

Optimise Health Can Help Improve Foot Pain 

Running is a great form of exercise to undertake, whether you do it as a hobby, competitively, or professionally (or as the bus you need disappears into the distance!). It can be a fantastic way to improve your fitness, release tension, and improve your mental health. It can also be enjoyed individually or as a social activity. 

As great as it is, it can put your body under a lot of stress and strain, and this can cause pain. It is important to be mindful of what could be contributing to the issue and take action to decrease the pain and avoid bigger issues developing. Our multidisciplinary team can assist you, so give us a call today!


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