Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Metatarsalgia Makes a Runner Sad

Metatarsalgia equals no running and sadness
The nice thing about Metatarsalgia is that it's a term for a symptom rather than a specific diagnosis. So, when someone asks what's wrong with your foot as you limp gingerly across the room, you can say that you have metatarsalgia, a proclamation that implies you actually went to the doctor in order to have this injury addressed.

But, in reality, you're just saying that your foot hurts. Pronouncing metatarsalgia with confidence will help convince people that you know exactly what's wrong with you, by the way.

The pain you experience with metatarsalgia is not the usual sort of runner's hurt, that soreness you ignore so that you can keep running. It's not overwhelmingly sharp, like a stress fracture, either. It hurts in a sensitive way, reminding you that many little, delicate parts comprise the architecture of your foot. There's a slight crumbling feeling under the ball of your foot in the beginning.

Metatarsalgia hurts enough to warrant taking a few days off from running so that you don't make it worse.

And, if ever there is an occasion for a runner to feel sad and self absorbed, to mope about and readily acknowledge his or her grumpiness; it is when that runner is sidelined due to injury.

So, as a courtesy to the thoughtful person who inquired about your impaired walking stride, you'll want to convey your general mood with regard to the injury before you actually get into a conversation about it. Employ subtly gruff tones and a degree of brevity to your response about your limp so that the other person will readily ascertain that you're not in a mood to talk about metatarsalgia.

If the other person knows you're a runner, then the mere mention of anything causing you to limp will imply that you're injured and unable to run in accordance with your usual schedule. And, if that person knows you well, they will understand the severity of this thing and change the topic of conversation to something that has nothing to do with running.

Have patience with non runners and people who want to "help" you figure out how to heal your damaged metatarsal region. They mean well. And, they do not realize how many levels of dependency we runners build upon the simple act of running. A week without exercise is not the same as a week without running.

Other runners, especially those who've dealt with metatarsalgia on a personal level, will sympathize with you. And, you won't mind mentioning your condition to them. It might feel good to see that look of understanding in their eyes when you talk about it. But, don't talk about being sidelined for too long, because who wants to listen to a whiner?

You'll just need patience as you let your foot heal. Fitness is not lost over the course of a few days. And, from what I can see, I'll be running again after about a week of rest. So, take heart. Think of this break from running as a test of stamina, will power, and fortitude.

You'll be fine. You'll be fine. You will be fine...

skeleton of foot, lateral

Image from Wikipedia


  1. Oh how I can relate to this post, Ash! I didn't have to act grumpy, I truly was grumpy during my bout with the dark evil force known as metatarsalgia. One of the things that *seemed* to work for me, was massaging the area to increase blood flow (and icing it after I massaged it too much...). Of course this hurt, and made me even grumpier, but that's the breaks..

    Heal well!

  2. Yes, Scott, I thought of you as I wrote this. I remember reading your own post about metatarsalgia. In fact, I read that just a few days before being overcome by the condition myself. Coincidence? Hmmm.... ;-P

  3. Check out the Surefoot Foot Rubz ball, if you don't already have one. Get well soon! On the brightside, it's blazing hot out there :-)

  4. Thanks for the suggestion, Andrew! That looks like a pretty nice little massage ball. I had something like that a couple of years ago. But, it had pointier nubs on it. So, when my 2-year old threw it at us when we weren't looking, it kinda hurt.

  5. Thank you! I'm currently dealing with this...emotions and all :( Marathon training is on pause for the week. I hope I don't pull out all of my hair in the meantime.

    1. Sorry for your injury, KJ! It's frustrating. But, you'll be fine once rested. And, your marathon training plan will barely notice the missed week. ;-)



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