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Use Cotton Balls to Treat Top of Foot Pain Tendonitis

  • Friday, June 25 2010 @ 12:59 PM EDT
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Running and Fitness

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Now that I have been running barefoot and in minimalist shoes for a few weeks, I no longer get soreness or pain in my calves. However, I am discouraged because I developed pain in the top of my right foot. Research ensued. This condition is aptly nicknamed TOFP (Top of Foot Pain) and is apparently common among new barefoot runners such as myself. Although this kind of pain may be caused by stress fractures, the more likely candidate is an injury called Extensor Tendinitis (aka Tendonitis).

When the pain first came on, it felt like it was more inside the foot and behind and in front of the ball... but no amount of touching on the bottom of my foot could pinpoint a problem. I was worried it was something serious. Eventually I found that the top of my foot just behind my toes was tender to the touch, and this was the source of all the pain.

Here is an almost magical treatment for top of foot pain caused by this kind of tendonitis:
Cotton Balls!



The painful area is circled in red. Putting cotton balls between my toes gave me IMMEDIATE relief from the pain. I could wiggle my toes, pull them up and push them down without pain! The top of my foot is still tender to the touch and mildly swolen, so the injury is still present, but at least I can walk without limping. I will continue to apply Ice and Heat, Elevate the foot, and Rest it. In this case, I believe that the Compression part of RICE treatment is bad because it squeezes the inflamed area together and triggers the pain. I am also taking Ibuprofen which is a recommended anti-inflammatory medication.

I found the cotton ball suggestion in a forum somewhere. None of the health web sites or podiatry web sites made any suggestion about cotton ball treatment! I hope this blog post helps some other folks out there who are in pain. If this trick does not work to reduce pain, or causes additional pain, then a more serious condition may exist and I recommend that the injury be inspected by a trained medical practitioner.

My RunAmocs come through for me again, here I am ready to go to work in jeans with cotton balls in between my toes:



So how to prevent tendonitis in the first place? Here is what Barefoot Ken Bob replied to me in his forums at The Running Barefoot:
"Simply bend the knees, and lift the foot, the entire foot, not just the heel. BE SURE NOT to push off at the tail end of your stride, and do not try to push the ball of your foot into the ground on landing. Your ankles, knees, and hips should be relaxed, to take advantage of your natural springs, and the ball of foot comes from bending the knees (to change the angle of the foot), rather than tensing the calves. If you are still tensing the calves, then you have not yet learned from your pains. There should be no pain, no work. Running BARE foot should be easy, and comfortable on nearly every surface!"

He also gave me a stern reminder of something that I know in my head is true:
"If you cannot run without pain, then you are not yet ready to race, or run any significant distance BARE foot, and especially in minimalist footwear (which is generally the reason so many people run too far, too soon, before they learn, because the minimalist footwear prevents you from learning the full Running BARE foot technique)."

In other words, my horrible newbie technique combined with too much too soon is what caused this injury. I know that I did not listen to my body and stop running as soon as the pain began. It is difficult controlling my Running Barefoot Exuberance Syndrome (RBES)!

Technique, technique, technique. Relax, relax, relax. Go easy my friends, it takes time to adjust and learn how to run again.
Use Cotton Balls to Treat Top of Foot Pain Tendonitis | 4 comments | Create New Account

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  • Use Cotton Balls to Treat Top of Foot Pain Tendonitis
  • Authored by: bsimoneaux on Friday, June 25 2010 @ 04:12 PM EDT

It's good know I'm not the only over zealous runner who's injured.  I thought that I had a stress fracture, but after reading your posts I'm wondering if it's Tendinitis.  How can you tell the difference?

Happy healing!

[ # ]
  • Use Cotton Balls to Treat Top of Foot Pain Tendonitis
  • Authored by: Dan Stoner on Monday, June 28 2010 @ 12:53 PM EDT

In theory getting the foot inspected by a trained medical practitioner would determine this.  I also read somewhere that moving the toes in the above fashion (e.g. pulling them apart or wedging them with cotton balls) would INCREASE the pain on a stress fracture... but I doubt there are universal rules on all this and it depends where the fracture is actually located.  I have read about people getting X-rays that do not show stress fracture and then having to get an MRI.

[ # ]
  • Use Cotton Balls to Treat Top of Foot Pain Tendonitis
  • Authored by: Dan Stoner on Wednesday, July 07 2010 @ 01:39 AM EDT

This cotton ball trick worked well for the severe throbbing pain I was having on the top of my foot.  It's not a magic cure, just a relief from discomfort.  After a few days the pain was no longer severe and the cotton balls didn't have any effect.  I am currently pain-free only because I took time off from running to rest and to heal.  I think that applying heat and ice plus elevating the foot helped.

[ # ]
  • Use Cotton Balls to Treat Top of Foot Pain Tendonitis
  • Authored by: cosplay on Monday, July 26 2010 @ 03:36 AM EDT

In theory getting the foot inspected by a trained medical practitioner would determine this. I also read somewhere that moving the toes in the above fashion (e.g. pulling them apart or wedging them with cotton balls) would INCREASE the pain on a stress fracture... but I doubt there are universal rules on all this and it depends where the fracture is actually located. I have read about people getting X-rays that do not show stress fracture and then having to get an MRI.

[ # ]

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