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Most Common Marathon Running Injuries – Sesamoiditis

Updated on August 29, 2010

Whether you’re just getting in shape or you want to get serious about starting an exercise program, there are a few things that commonly occur if you start out too hard.   And as spring is just around the corner, many people are beginning their marathon training.  Even veteran marathon runners can develop running injuries in the first few months.  In either case, your body just isn’t ready to take the punishment that you give it. 

In this article we discuss the running injury Sesamoiditis.  We’ll cover symptoms of Sesamoiditis, what causes it, how you can prevent it, and what Sesamoiditis treatments are available.  As with any medical condition, it’s important to see your doctor if your pain is serious or debilitating.  Keep in mind that there are various treatment options available, many of them can be found online.  Make sure to thoroughly research each option to decide if it’s right for you.

Sesamoiditis is the technical term for the pain that’s on the ball of the foot.  Typically, this foot pain is on the 1st metatarsal (the big toe side).  The sesamoid is actually a group of bones that together with tendons control the big toe.  The main cause of sesamoiditis is running, usually excessive running.  With sesamoiditis the worst pain will be when you push off, as the big toe is used to propel the foot forward.  During this motion the tendons rub together and become inflamed.  Occasionally the sesamoid bones can experience a stress fracture.  The pain can range from a persistent dull ache to a sharp pain; so if you have a pain on the ball of your foot especially after running you could very well have sesamoiditis.

In general, sesamoiditis will occur gradually and can initially be confused for something like tendonitis.  As you continue to exercise the condition will get worse and may continue until the point where it becomes debilitating.  One of the major causes of sesamoiditis is increased exercising.  So if you’ve just began an exercise routine, especially one that it hard on the balls of your feet (like running) it’s likely you’ve aggravated the sesamoid bones.  Another factor that tends to cause sesamoiditis is high arches; they put more pressure on the inside of the feet and the big toe.

The best treatment for sesamoiditis is prevention.  This type of running injury is directly a result of too much activity too quickly.  You need to start off gradually enough to challenge yourself and then gradually build your road time.  To still get the benefits of running (increased heart rate and muscular endurance) you can supplement your running with other exercises that don’t have contact with the foot.  Any stationary exercise besides the treadmill will help, biking, swimming , cross country skiing; all are good examples of cross training that you can do.  I would stay away from sports such as basketball or tennis which have a lot of foot planting and pushing off.  Another helpful tip is to always wear supportive shoes.  Remember that running shoes only last about 400 miles.  Wearing old shoes is a quick way to damage your foot.

If you do have sesamoiditis and need to treat it there are several things you can do.  If it’s a very light injury, you probably don’t need to go to the doctors (although it can’t hurt to have it checked out); just rest, ice and advil should help with the sesamoiditis pain.  If you do this for 2-3 weeks your pain should be cured.  If not you may have a more advanced stage of sesamoiditis.  For these types of injuries you should go to the doctors to determine if there is a more serious underlying cause.  The doctor may advise other types of treatments such as special sesamoiditis orthotics (shoe inserts) that will correct the position of the foot and relieve some of the pressure being put on the ball of your foot.  There are also special shoes for sesamoiditis if this condition is a chronic problem.  As with most foot problems, wearing the proper supportive shoes will avoid many foot injuries.

There are a lot of good resources available online to help inform you on your treatment options for sesamoiditis.  Doing a little bit of research ahead of time will help you and your doctor to formulate a game plan for treating your sesamoiditis. 

Other Running Injuries

Most Common Running Injuries - Plantar Fasciitis - A guide on what plantar fasciitis is, how you get it, how to prevent it and how to treat it.

Most Common Running Injuries - Generalized Foot Pain - A look at what running injuries occur in the foot, especially when you first start running again.


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    • lovelypaper profile image

      Renee S 

      7 years ago from Virginia

      Great hub. Very informative.


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