Perhaps you are a runner who enjoys the thrill of going out for long runs in the day, often a few times a week. You are passionate about running and want nothing but the wind in your hair and your muscles pumping out iron to propel you forward.
That said, it is important to know just what parts of your body that you are working out. From the gluteus section to the metatarsal bones, it really helps to figure out what areas are involved in running, so that you can better yourself by focusing your energy on them the next time around.
Hence, just what is metatarsal, you might ask? Maybe you are not sure what it is, and that is no problem. We are here to help! Learn more in this article on what it is, as well as get your frequently-asked questions answered to assist you in your running progress. Soon enough, you will be ready to kick some asphalt for your next big run!
Without further ado, let us get started!
Generally speaking, the metatarsal refers to the bones in the foot. More specifically, they are the ones that are on the hind and mid-foot section of the area, along with the phalanges. There are no exact names for each individual toe bones, but instead they are numbered (starting from the big toe) first, second, third, fourth, and fifth.
Function-wise, the metatarsal bones connect the toes to the heel of the foot, as means of keeping the foot firmly planted and stable. In addition, they work with ligaments and tendons in the body to move it properly around, whether through walking, running, skipping, dancing, and so forth. They do so by shifting weight from one end to the other, and that is how they move forward.
Since they are used pretty much all of the time, the metatarsal bones are the most commonly-broken bones in the foot. Whether it is through pressure or repeated stress on this area, it certainly can be a painful experience to endure.
Some injuries that involve the metatarsal bones include the following:
This is one of the most common injuries in the metatarsal bones. As previously mentioned, the bones in this particular area of the foot are heavily used in almost all physical activities, so it comes as no surprise that overusing them can lead to the bones breaking down, in the form of fractures.
One can divide fractures into different sections: acute and stress fractures. The former refers to a sharp, intense pain caused by a sudden, unexpected movement such as falling and spraining the now-affected area. It is commonly found in soccer players, especially when they kick the ball in an inefficient way, thus leading to injury.
On the other hand, stress fractures are often seen in athletes like runners, who tend to use the metatarsal bones often when out for a run. If not properly taken care of, over time the bones will start to break down and result in chronic pain, which by then can be very difficult to heal.
There is also a specific fracture known as a march fracture, which as the name suggests refers to the stress caused by harsh, military marching or other activities that otherwise fatigues the bones themselves. It often goes undetected, just because it involves a sore sensation often associated with the foot being tired.
While fractures involve the metatarsal bones actually breaking down, metatarsalgia refers to the inflammation of the ball of the foot. It is caused by nerve endings going awry, which causes the pain to occur.
While it might seem like the pain will not go away, we guarantee you that, by taking the measures to heal along with patience, you will be able to be pain-free in no time. Here are some ideas to get you right on your way to recovery:
More specifically, this refers to physical activities which otherwise applies pressure to the affected area, such as soccer, running, and hiking. This is not to say that you stop doing sports altogether, but rather just those which aggravate the metatarsal bones.
That said, while the bones of your feet are healing, try alternative exercises to keep yourself in shape. Low-impact activities like swimming, yoga, and core workouts are good ones to turn to. Not only will they help your foot bones heal faster, but also they have you work out different parts of your body (e.g. shoulders, back, arms, abs) that you might have otherwise neglected to do. It is worth a try!
Especially if your bones are inflamed and painful, it is a good idea to ice the area as means of reducing the swell and unpleasant sensation. RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) is a good strategy to follow, but we also encourage you to do PRICE, which adds pressure to the affected place for better effect.
At the same time, however, it is important not to let the ice sit on your toes for too long, since it can cause the nerve endings to be damaged, which can be worse than the injured pain itself. That said, ice the area for no more than 20 minutes per side.
Sometimes, icing is not enough, so you might turn to painkillers to get rid of the pain. Generic brands such as ibuprofen can be a good choice, as long as you take the appropriate dose for it. While it is only temporary relief, it is better than nothing.
Overall, having a metatarsal injury can be debilitating, not to forget really discouraging if you are an avid runner. However, by researching and taking steps to heal slowly and properly, you will be able to recover and emerge stronger than ever. With that said, best of luck to you!