You shouldn’t have to put duct tape in your sneakers to prevent your toe from pushing through the top. I had this toe issue several years ago and have since always put duct tape in my sneakers under the top of the shoe, where my foot rubs. I would literally get holes in the toes of my sneakers and I went through many pairs of socks. I actually got this duct tape tip from an employee at a local runner store. I thought it was a great solution at the time. I really should have focused on fixing my running form instead.
Fast forward to today and my extensor tendonitis on my left foot. I’ve taken time off to let the inflammation go down, to let it heal. My left foot has felt 100% better so I decided to do a short 3 mile run on the treadmill on Thursday morning. Instant pain. I was so confused. Why was this happening? My foot had felt so much better with zero pain, swelling or tenderness all week. On the treadmill, the top of my right foot felt like it was swelling and hurt with the tongue of the shoe touching it. It wasn’t a sharp pain so I did the 3 miles and then iced. That run left me pretty confused. The marathon is only a week away! How will I be able to run 26.2 if my foot feels like that? How will I know when the extensor tendonitis pain is gone?
Luckily, I was able to get in to see a physical therapist last evening. The new PT I saw at my regular PT place was energetic and really wanted to help me be able to run the marathon. A runner himself, he understood my craziness with wanting to run 26.2 miles SO BADLY. First I stood barefoot and he looked at my feet. He said they both look good and pretty much the same. Both my arches are falling from a high arch to more of a level arch. That’s normal. The arch on the left foot is a little bit higher. Below you can see how my feet used to be when I was younger (he said) and how they look now when I stand in neutral.
He had me sit down and then pressed on different areas to see if there’s any tenderness. Not really at all. He then asked me to just relax my feet. Apparently most people relax their feet in the position on the bottom. I relax my feet in the position in the top photo. I never knew this was strange!
Treadmill time. He had me walk at a very steep incline and asked what my pain was from 1-10. I’d say a 2 – I was aware but it wasn’t hurting too much. It got a little worse when I ran uphill on the treadmill – maybe to a 3/4. I thought my foot was going to instantly hurt like it did the day before on the treadmill, but it didn’t. Odd. He asked if I have a running coach because I’m a mid-foot striker, which is very rare. A good thing to run that way! He had me run heel-to-toe to see if my foot felt better but I didn’t notice much of a difference. I felt like I used a lot more energy running heel-to-toe. I really tried to focus on what the pain was like when I ran uphill. I felt it on the top of my foot from the bend in my ankle to my big toe. And then I realized how bent up my big toe was. I had completely forgotten about this issue since I haven’t had my toes stick out of my sneakers lately. But I realized I’ve been running with my toes pointing up. The duct tape was fixing the problem of holes in my sneakers but not fixing my form issue. This running style hasn’t bothered me in the past few years but I haven’t been running long runs each week.
I showed the PT some photos on my phone that I had taken of the swelling on my foot after the 20 mile run. He said it was really smart to take photos of the swelling. Good to remember for the future, as well! He said I probably tied my shoes too tight and did too many hills and developed the extensor tendonitis a few weeks ago. That pressure on the top of my foot by the bend in the ankle irritated the extensors and weakened the ones going down to my toes. Since I pull up on my toes when I run, I experience extra pain and irritation. So I need to focus on keeping my toes down when I run. Such a small thing but I’m realizing that the smallest things can really affect your running, especially when marathon training! As my PT said, a marathon is not 2 half marathons – it’s more like 6 for what a marathon does to your body! He doesn’t think running a marathon is the healthiest thing to do to yourself. But he’s done it and he gets the desire to run it. He also gave me great nutrition and hydration tips. Stayed tuned for a future post on that.
So I plan to do a 1 mile run tomorrow and a couple more times before the race, practicing on keeping my toes down when I run. I’m also icing and taking ibuprofen. Looks like the marathon will happen. Fingers crossed!