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March 5, 2007 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Why are my feet hurting during certain activities?

I was ice skating this weekend for the first time in... a very long time. I used to skate a fair amount 10-12 years ago and never remembered any sort of pain as a result, but this time around I would have to remove my skates and massage my feet every 20-30 minutes - the pain literally was unbearable. It mostly occurred in the ball of my foot and somewhat in the arch.

I'm also a pretty avid snowboarder and the last couple times I was out on the hills I noticed similar pain. I'm wondering if there's some muscle group I've been neglecting, if I should be stretching better, or if there's some medical issue with my feet. I've always been a fairly active guy (biking, backpacking, snowboarding, in-line skating, kayaking, etc etc) and I've never had (consciously) these issues before. Anyone have some insight on this?

posted by quadrinary to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sounds like plantar fasciitis. I have that and am seeing a physiotherapist for it. Treatment involves ice, ultrasound and stretching.
posted by cardboard at 8:16 AM on March 5, 2007

As to why skating caused it, your skates probably have worse arch support than your regular shoes, putting more strain on the plantar fascia.
posted by cardboard at 8:18 AM on March 5, 2007

It sounds like plantar fasciitis. Next time drop some arch supports into the skates. Stretch your achilles tendons to help relieve the pain.
posted by caddis at 8:20 AM on March 5, 2007

Response by poster: I'm not sure about the plantar fasciitis - the pain itself isn't in the heal or near it. On the whole, it's much closer to my toes, right at or behind the ball of my foot. In stretching my feet out after experiencing the pain, pulling my toes upward resulted in incredible pain. Even after I'd fully stretch my feet that way, I would still get pain a good 5-10 minutes later. If anything, I had less pain by putting the majority of my weight on my heels, instead of leaning forward (which, of course, is no good for ice skating)

Thanks for the thoughts thus far
posted by quadrinary at 8:33 AM on March 5, 2007

Are you sure your feet haven't gotten a bit wider? The pain you describe sound exactly like how my feet felt after wearing too-narrow skates.
posted by backupjesus at 8:39 AM on March 5, 2007

fallen arches. you need shoes with raised support in the middle of your foot.
posted by phaedon at 8:45 AM on March 5, 2007

I used to have a similar pain in my foot, at about the same location as you describe, when I used to go for long-ish hikes. Putting an arch support insert in my hiking boots helped immensely, and I now have them in just about all my shoes. I used Superfeet, which can probably be found just about anywhere, including REI, but there are a number of different orthotics that should do the same type of thing.

I did not have the pain with stretching though, so maybe you've got something a little different, but I'm not sure I tried stretching my feet out in the manner you describe.
posted by LionIndex at 8:56 AM on March 5, 2007

It is most definitely plantar fasciitis. Your feet are probably flat, and overpronating, which makes the muscles inserting into the plantar fascia work harder than normal to correct the problem. This results in intense pain, like you're stepping on a nail or have a pebble in your shoe. The pain is centered behind the ball of the foot, where the fascia inserts onto the metatarsals. I understand the pain, it hits me when I run without proper arch support.

Get a good pair of arch supports. Try a running specialty store for advice on which brand to pick up - the generic squishy gel kind from the local drug store won't always do it.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:58 AM on March 5, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks again for the input; I think I'll check my local REI and a running store in the area. I'd considered arch supports before but wasn't sure if they'd be able to handle my activity level.

What would cause fallen arches, etc?
posted by quadrinary at 9:14 AM on March 5, 2007

I've got the fallen arches. Mine came from ice skating (all those year of jumping and too-stiff skates can really obliterate your foot structure).

Yes, orthotics do help, but I would also suggest ensuring your shoes/skates/boots are wide enough across the ball of your foot.

The orthotics I have are a hard plastic made by a podiatrist; they work well with the arch issue, but the hard plastic nature can actually cause some heel pain. So, my advice would be to try the squishy kind first and see if they'll work. Make sure the supports aren't just heel supports (i.e. they should come all the way up to the ball of your foot, not stop halfway through your arch).

Oh, and, seeing a podiatrist isn't a bad idea if you can't find a quick fix through premade supports.
posted by nat at 9:32 AM on March 5, 2007

Uh, it's probably not plantar fasciitis, as the poster correctly points out. The lack of pain at the calcaneal insertion, the lack of pain with first contact with surfaces, etc.

A more likely dx could be sesamoiditis, but a visit to a podiatrist or FP/IM would be wise to rule out any number of other issues - neuroma, stress fracture, etc.
posted by docpops at 9:48 AM on March 5, 2007

If your skates are 10 or 12 years old, or if they're brand new, it might just be a matter of fit -- I'm on skates 4 or 5 days a week, and if the fit is off (usually happens with cheaper pairs) I'll feel it pretty quick. I think it tends to be an arch thing, as mentioned above.

If you decide to go with inserts, try the Superfeet brand. They make a set specifically for skating. I see you're a hiker, you may already be familiar with the brand; I've got a pair for backpacking as well and they're crucial gear as far as I'm concerned.
posted by sonofslim at 10:48 AM on March 5, 2007

I had very similar pain in the ball of one foot and it was diagnosed as a neuroma .. a growth on a nerve at the base of the toes, where it branches off into each separate toe. The nerve and the growth on it become pinched between the metatarsal bones and it becomes really painful. If you take your shoe off, it feels better for a moment or two. My doctor said surgery used to be the only treatment but now they can inject steroids into the affected nerve. As soon as I'm done nursing, I will be having this treatment.

I'd ask around for a recommendation for a good podiatrist and get it checked out, as docpops suggests. I put if off for a long time and I feel dumb now, as a simple injection could have saved me a lot of pain. That being said, I am a big chicken and not looking forward to getting a shot in my foot. Good luck and I hope you get some relief.
posted by Kangaroo at 11:50 AM on March 5, 2007

I have similar symptoms and was recently diagnosed with sesamoiditis. My arches are 17ยบ, way in excess of normal. Snowboarding, especially when riding toeside, puts pressure on the ball of the foot and can cause those symptoms. Get to a podiatrist right away. I used steroid shots, along with Vioxx (pre-ban) and Celebrex to get through it.
posted by charlesv at 5:57 PM on March 5, 2007

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