There’s a war going on…

It seems that the tops of my feet don’t really like what the bottoms of my feet are doing to them. And my calf muscles must take some of the blame too.

When you overdo it with barefoot running, one of the common ailments is called top of foot pain (TOFP). I have it in spades right now. It hurt so badly last weekend that I actually had an MRI done because I was convinced I had a stress fracture. Thankfully the scan came back clean, minus a bit of “lighting up” on my fourth metatarsal. Now the other foot has joined the party and I’m left with really bad TOFP–so bad that I am putting running on hold until it clears out. My fear is that if I don’t lay off running, it will result in a stress fracture, in both feet. Did you know that they can’t double boot you in that case? Which I guess would mean either a wheelchair or doing one foot at a time until they heal. Yeah, I am NOT going there!

You’d think I’d be crushed because I was only six or so weeks back to running after my horrible lay off from ITB. I am bummed, of course. But I can deal with this. For one thing, I have no races on the horizon. For two, I wasn’t back in fighting shape yet anyhow, so as far as fitness goes, there’s just not that much to lose right now. And hopefully, hopefully, a few weeks away from running will help.

I’m lined up for a massage today to focus on my calf muscles and acupuncture next week. I’ve of course checked in with the sock doc on this and his thoughts are that a weak bottom of the foot often causes pain on top of the foot. That makes sense to me. In spite of the fact that I have gone without orthotics for several months now and spend the vast majority of my waking hours in bare feet, the reality is that my feet were encased in shoes for years and are still weak. I got caught up in how good it felt to run barefoot and overdid it.

Will I go back to barefoot running once my feet calm down? Yes, yes, yes. I am convinced it’s the best path to better running form. I just need to be more cautious. Lesson learned. Now if only my warring parts will kiss and make up, there might be some peace and harmony to my running.

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  1. Jogging with Fiction says

    I'm sure you'll be back in action in no time and you're clearly seeing the bright side of things, so that's good. Massages are awesome!

  2. Matty O says

    You are strong willed. I have my opinions on this topic. All in all, it's not for everyone. I tried, failed miserably and went 6 months with unbearable injuries. Switched my form back to normal (mid-foot striking) zero pain now after 2 weeks.

    Just saying. Please be careful, be smart, and make sure this is for you. My ART dr. said that only certain people can take to this form, I trust him, he has seen a lot (as have the people you have talked to).

    I just know that I get something in my head and will do anything to make it work. Crap, I ran 2 miles at a time all winter to "make it work" and it just made things worse.

    If you are going to the hospital for MRIs already, it might not be for you.

    (Don't hate me for my comments, I just know what happened to me and don't want you to go through more injury garbage).

  3. Adrienne says

    I recall Matt Fitzgerald commenting once on returning (or starting) running, barefoot or not, is like learning to play guitar. I found that analogy very true to my re-launching.

    Keep up the great attitude-your callouses will form soon enough!

  4. Jeff - DangleTheCarrot says

    Your attitude is great! Sorry about the setback but you'll get through it with bells on!!!

    Your title had me thinking maybe you were doing a political post? ha! should have known you wouldn't break that rule!

  5. Shellyrm ~ just a country runner says

    Being aware of our form (foot strike included) is important for every runner. I don't think barefoot is for everyone but I do know it helps you become aware of how you are hitting the ground. I doubt I'll ever be barefoot all the time but a few miles a week helps keep me from getting lazy, even if it's just running with the kids. Taking off our shoes with all this rain and soft ground is fun!
    I hope the makeup goes smoothly. 😉

  6. Jill says

    I'd think my feet would be made of steel; I've never worn shoes or orthotics…yet I still can't run. SUCKS!

    Big hugs to you!

  7. Silly Girl Running says

    Get those feet to listen to the rest of your body! Naughty feet. Seriously: sucky feet. But they will heal. They have to!

    Plus…I'm a believer now. Still easing in to it: did 2 barefoot miles yesterday and loved every step. :)

  8. Amanda@runninghood says

    It is really cool to see your journey towards barefoot running. Sounds like something that will take time but you'll get there! Also sounds like you have a really good attitude and perspective of the process. Best of luck to you Amanda!

  9. Joanne says

    Oh no. Sorry to hear about the new pain. But what a terrific attitude AND that you don't question your choice of barefoot running.
    I'm still on the skeptics side but did run 2 miles on the treadmill in my Vibram 5-Fingers this morning. Can't say it felt great. The "spring" that sneaks. give just isn't there. I'll stick with using the Vibes. on the mill for a while. Hopefully avoiding any repercussions like TOFP. Yikes!

  10. MCM Mama says

    Hope that settles down soon! I haven't had that pain *knock wood*, but I think it's because my feet are really strong from years of going barefoot as often as possible. My issues have been more with my weak ankles.

    The key thing for me has been shorter distances more frequently.

    Good luck!

  11. Penny says

    I was having some ball of foot pain wednesday after my run of 6 miles. The balls of my feet hurt pretty bad. I iced them several time yesterday to see if that might help. Alson I have been wearing socks with my vff's. So this morning I decided to try them with out the socks. Hallelujah. Did 9 miles today and they felt a lot better. For me it's just trying to figure it out by trial and error. I sure hope the tops of your feet get better. Hang in there.

  12. KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) says

    I hate learning stuff the hard way but it does have a lasting effect and we become better athletes because of it. Hang in there and your feet and whole body will be in harmony soon.

  13. Julia says

    love your attitude about all this and your determination! sending positive thoughts your way and hoping the pain subsides quickly!

  14. Evolving Through Running says

    Seems like a razor's-edge in striking the right balance to master the barefoot approach. Sounds like you're taking the wise approach. Can't imagine dealing with a double-boot.

    With all the crazy medical acronyms, it's refreshing to see that 'top of the foot pain' is in fact referred to as 'top of foot pain'. Not the most original naming effort, but certainly makes sense.

  15. Richelle says

    Bummer that your feet are going to war against you! Taking time off and easing back into barefoot running definitely sounds like the best approach. Plus, you've definitely got the patience for it! Hope the TOFP goes away soon!

  16. Teamarcia says

    Gosh it's always something isn't it, but I truly think the TOFP is just a step in the process and it'll all even out.
    Good to know you haven't ruled out CIM–neither have I! ; )

  17. Char says

    I'm glad you're not pulling your hair out over it. Frustration-induced baldness is the last thing you need. And the massage can only do good things.

  18. Caratunk Girl says

    Ugh. That sucks. Sounds like your plan is a good one. I wonder what Dr. Socks would say? I mean the Sock Doc. Probably ease off I guess. Anyway, heal quickly!! So sorry you keep having to deal with this injury crap!

  19. Happy Feet 26.2 says

    I went for a run with Chris McDougall (author of Born to Run) last night. While I personally have no need to give barefoot running a try (thankfully, I'm healthy), I have enjoyed your journey. Also, I know I would definitely give it a try if I was injury prone. I've tried to convince my hubby who goes from one injury to the next to give barefoot a try. Really, what does he have to lose?
    (pics of Scott Jurek and Chris on my blog)

  20. Angie Bee says

    I have had TOFP a couple of times but it did go away so hang in there. Its a test of more than just your feet :)

  21. Fran says

    Holy cow Zippy, you don't have much luck with your feet at the moment. I truly hope it will heal soon and you will run painfree from that point on.

  22. Running Mama says

    Wow. Hope they heel fast! I don't see how bare foot running can be good for you. I know nothing about it though, and just recently even heard of it. Good luck and enjoy your down time.
    Have a fabulous weekend!

  23. Chris K says

    Every Wed after my track session, I do my cool down b.f. I guess I should run b.f. more often, but once per week is what I got going on right now. Maybe you can do every run warm up b.f. then run back to the car to put on your shoes.

  24. SupermomE12 says

    I hope that you are able to heal up quickly and get back to running pain free soon. Hang in there and keep listening to your body.