"What the heck am I talking about?" you may ask.
Well, remember my talking about some minor foot pain these last couple of races? I thought it may be due to a particular pair of shoes. Upon further reflection and a bit of internet research, I've concluded that the pain in my foot, as discussed in a couple of previous posts (this one and this one), may be caused by bruising of the sesamoid bones in my feet.
Weird, I know. These little bones lie at the base of the big toe, on the underside, and are sort of free-floating, embedded in a muscle and attached to ligaments and serving as a sort of fulcrum to allow the muscle and tendon to slide smoothly over the tarsals as the big toe is flexed forward in an en-pointe position or backward, such as when walking or running.
|This is the exact spot where I'm experiencing the pain while running.|
I learned that these tiny little ovoid bones can be bruised - or even broken. I also learned that it's a fairly common injury to runners, dancers, and to athletes who participate in fast start-stop activities like football or tennis. For football players, it's called "turf toe." The condition is called sesamoiditis.
For runners, its an injury associated with high running frequency and/or running on hills. Think backward flexure of the big toes and which portion of the foot is going to make contact first when landing on an uphill slope. And sure enough, I've been doing a lot of running lately. And I've done a couple of very hilly race courses in the past 2 months. In fact, when the pain hit during both the Nashville race and the Wichita race, it was while running uphill, and I did notice that it didn't hurt while running downhill or while walking. The discomfort would start to accumulate the deeper into the race I'd get, something that the various websites mention when describing this condition. Tendency toward sesamoiditis is also associated with age as we lose padding on the soles of our feet. So here's something else for me to consider in the future: trying a shoe model with more cushioning in the forefoot.
After the Wichita race, back in my hotel room, I noticed some swelling on the ball of my right foot, just under the big toe. The swelling was gone the next day with no intervention required on my part (like icing it or taking ibuprofen to reduce inflammation), which is the good news. Further good news is that I don't experience any pain when walking or doing slow and easy jogging.
But I will take it easy for a couple of weeks and keep my mileage down to give it a rest. I'm also looking at some light padding options. A runner's on-line chat room gave me a good lead on some metatarsal pads that I may purchase. They come highly recommended by other runners who are experiencing the same condition.
So, there it is.