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Running From Foot Pain

I’ve been active my whole life but only really began running three years ago.  My previous activities focused on hockey, skiing and golf which all meant a lot of pressure on my feet and very tight fitting footwear.  Over time, I developed an injury called Morton’s Neuroma, a fairly well-known and quite painful foot disease.  Conventional treatment suggests orthotics and in extreme cases, surgery to remove nerves from the feet.  As I ran longer distances, my neuroma, which had been fairly well managed, began to flare up causing me great pain in any distance over 10k.  During the 2009 Goodlife Marathon, I walked the final 8k due to the pain from this injury and I thought that my running days were over.  Nevertheless, I went to my family doc who gave me one last chance – and I am very glad he did.

My doctor sent me to Mt. Sinai hospital’s Rehab and Wellbeing Centre where I received a relatively new treatment for neuroma called shock wave therapy.   While the treatments were somewhat uncomfortable at first, the results were worth every visit.  In short, shock wave therapy is like getting thousands of tiny hammer blows to the affected area breaking down certain tissue and thus giving the nerves in my feet more room to move again.  (For more on the treatment here’s an article  After 8 treatments in January and February combined with 8 treatments of laser therapy, I received new neutral orthotics and was on my way.  Training for the year was already behind schedule since I had to refrain from running more than about 20 minutes at a time, but when I did get back on track I noticed an immediate improvement.  The real test came in April.

On April 25th, almost 3 months after my last treatment I ran the Huronia Half Marathon in Midland.  It is a hilly course with very few flat spots and lots of killer climbs.  The result was a personal best 1:46:00, and I ran the whole race pain free!  After a couple of days rest, I picked up the pace of my training and completed an Olympic duathlon two weeks later.  I ran into some numbness on my right foot at the 30k mark on the bike but found that after running for about five minutes the feeling in my toes actually came back and I was able to pick up the pace again.  I finished the race in 2:08:16 (another personal best) and spent the afternoon walking around a zoo with my kids, something that would not have happened post-race last year.   I’m quite amazed at how quickly I’m able to recover now because I don’t run several kilometres on my heels or the outside of my foot thus causing extra stress on my knees and hips.

I have no medical training, so be sure to do your homework before exploring this option.  However, if you suffer from foot pain I recommend considering this treatment and want to send a huge thank you to Dr. Copeland and the entire staff at Mt. Sinai – you got my feet back on the road again.

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  • I have had the same treatment for plantar faciitis: another common running injury. It was effective at eliminating the pain but it has come back twice since. It appears that you must be patient, not rush back to quickly to playing golf, cycling, walking or running and continue to do all the stretching exercices for a few months afterwards.

  • Hi, I am glad to hear that the shock wave treatment worked, I started it 3 weeks ago for plantar fasciitis, I have noticed a tiny bit of improvement, so I hope it works for me after a few more..I also had laser and ultra sound which didn’t help a lot, that is why I have started shock wave…looks like we are on the same path. Like you I am also having knee pain. glad to see this article, it makes me encouraged that I am hopefully on the right path!! I am a wlaker and completed 4 half marathons last year and haven’t been able to train since Oct, 2010.

  • It’s always good to hear about a new treatment but I would like to remind everyone that treatment, no matter how innovative tends to act on the symtoms. Yes, you have Morton’s neroma or plantar fascitis or a sore knee but what is causing these problems? Practically all chronic injuries are due to muscle weaknesses or imbalances. Therefore, I feel it is absolutely incumbent upon athletes to discover the source of the injury. Without addressing that issue, the injury usually returns at some point after treatment. As a former competitive race walker and now a level 3 coach of race walking, I highly recommend seeing a Muscle Activation Therapist. A MAT specialist can test virtually every muscle in your body and tell you which ones are working and which ones aren’t. Most athletic therapists are pretty good at testing the big muscles but MAT can pinpoint the small underlying muscles, the ones most of us don’t even know we have. After testing and treatment, you’ll be sent home with homework to do – seemingly silly and simple isometric type exercises. Do them. They work. MAT works on the neuro muscular level. It wakes up and activates the nerves that tell the muscles to work. It is highly effective and many professional athletes are having MAT treatments. At the clinic that I go to is a wall of photos of many high level athletes they have treated. One day, I ran into Jose Calderon of the Raptors. He was leaving clutching his sheet of homework exercises. Another day, it was blond giant beach volleyball player from the Netherlands. People with all sorts of problems go to this clinic, not just athletes. Unfortunately, there are very few MAT therapists in Canada. We are lucky in Toronto to have a couple of clinics. The best one is Core Strength on Eglinton Ave. West; between Mt. Pleasant and Yonge St.

  • Hi all…great comments. Like I said, I’m not a doctor so what works for me may not work for you. I do suggest sticking with the treatments and having some patience with this before you choose another path. I seriously thought my running days were over but this treatment gave me a new opportunity to do the things I want to do with very few restrictions (cycling is still a bit of a pain, but not a show stopper). I highly recommend properly fitted footwear (I run in Ascics for the width and cushoning – wouldn’t trade them for the world) and the folks at Running Free are the best in the biz at fitting feet of all different shapes, sizes and state of repair. See you on the trails.

  • Thanks a ton Landon French with regards to this magnificent message. Plantar Fasciitis is certainly a unpleasant problem…I should understand – I’ve been a victim myself!
    The perfect treatment I believe is plenty of rest along with the proper sort of stretching exercises.

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