Where is your pain coming from?

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

As we go through life we get aches and pains, and most of us have probably felt the effects of a lower back pain, where possibly you just can’t seem to do much for a week or two. I know there are different causes of back pain and if its a disc you could be looking at a longer term recovery.

Certainly a pain prevents you from moving properly, and you have now just developed a limp from a run. You would almost guarantee though that the pain was definitely coming from the foot/ankle region, it just seemed to come on after running about 3km and you couldn’t complete that 5km. You have not been running long, but look forward to the run for fitness and stress relief from work.

So you stop, limp home, rest for a few days, hoping the pain will go away and you can get back to your running. After a couple of weeks you see a friend at the shops who asks why you have not been running, you tell him, and he suggests getting a pair of motion controlled running shoes to control some pronation you had in the foot after discussing and reading an article on foot pain for runners and checking your own foot.

It seemed like a good idea, so you decide to give it ago, those new running shoes looked very smart, cost a bit as well. So you go out running - but again on reaching 3km the same problem comes on.

You may decide to retire from running as your foot doesn’t seem to like it. It’s fine with walking and achieving a good few kilometres is no problem. You have also tried to use a foam roller, it seems to help for a while but the pain soon comes back.

In the example above, although the pain is being felt in the foot, it could be due to other factors not considered. As we have progressed further in our knowledge of pain and movement, there could be other options to try to alleviate the pain in the foot.

Could the way you run be causing the pain? Yes and no, could be the answer to this question. If you were an over strider it could possibly cause the issue. And what about static stretching? Another tool that is often used to remedy aches in muscles, feels good to do, but is not always successful for helping injuries.

Sometimes you just have to step back from the pain in the foot to see a bigger picture, and ask further questions to look for answers elsewhere. Some questions might be:- How often do you run? Do you run the same route? Do you do any other exercise in the week? What’s your day job and could it in some way have an affect on your foot? Any previous injuries? Do you load that foot more when you run? Does it feel different to the other foot? Do you expect the pain to come on now at 3km? Have you tried a different run to see if the same happens? Are you stressed when you run?

Our concept of pain is usually that it must be coming from the area that you feel the pain is in, either something wrong with the muscle or joints around the ankle/foot complex in this instance. This may not always be the case though and the pain may be caused by other factors some as above. Say for instance the leg was weak, then the foot might be taking extra strain every time you landed on it running, supporting the foot with a different shoe would not help, but strengthening the leg may help.

Think of a computer that controls a fan in your room to cool it. You download an app on your phone so you can link the fan and control it remotely. It’s been a hot day and you left the fan on all day, but then suddenly it stops working.

You try and switch it back on from your phone app but nothing! The fan must have broken, you check the fan but can’t see anything wrong. So where could we look for the problem, wifi signal down? The app has frozen for some reason or corrupt? You decide to reboot your phone and YES the fan is back working.

It would be great if we could have the same effect on the body that quick, but hopefully you will see that the pain may be due to different reasons and not just the fault of the joint or muscle connected to it.

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