Imagine this: You're 6 weeks in to your new running program and have been experiencing foot pain for 2 weeks now. You can't stop running as your goal race is in 1 month and the pain isn't so bad that you are willing to sacrifice your miles. The pain is just enough that you know you should do something before it gets worse...but what? You ask your running group and receive 5 different recommendations for 5 different products that may, or may not, fix your problem. Is it plantar fasciitis, a bone spur, stress fracture or something you've never even heard of??? Do you need an x-ray? Should you be taking advil, tylenol, turmeric? Should you ice or heat? You decide to start with ice in a water bottle as 3 out of 5 your friends recommended it...it's 2 days later and you already feel better, time to run again! To your surprise, less than a 1/2 mile in, your pain returns! Back to the drawing board, or more likely your facebook group. "Help, my foot hurts when I run! What should I do?!"... Well, 50 replies later and now you don't know if you should see a specialist, buy a 50 dollar leg sleeve, 200 dollar shoe inserts, new sneakers, or a high quality biofreeze! Before you waste anymore money I'm going to let you in on a little secret, an assessment by a physical therapist can give you all of the answers you are looking for. A PT will assess what issues CONTRIBUTED to your pain, HOW TO FIX those issues, DECREASE your pain and get you BACK ON THE ROAD so you can build your miles up and RUN in that race.
Foot pain can be complicated. Sometimes it's an easy fix and just a few stretches can relieve your pain. Sometimes you may actually need a foot insert because of the structural anatomy of your foot/ankle. Sometimes the real problem isn't even found in the foot (it could be up the chain in the knee or hip). Physical Therapists are movement specialists, not only can we assess the impairments but we can review your running stride and see if there may be any additional abnormalities contributing to stress on joints/muscles/tendons that cause pain.
Many people are looking for that "quick fix" or "magic pill". Unfortunately, it's rare if making one small change truly fixes the problem. An ankle sleeve may buy you time so that you can run a bit more but it doesn't fix the problem. Ice and NSAIDS (advil) will decrease your pain temporarily but they won't fix the problem. PT will IDENTIFY AND FIX the problem.
If you experience foot pain, or any other nagging pain for that matter, please have an evaluation by a physical therapist. Stop searching for that magic pill because it's not out there, the magic's in me!