Hopping on a treadmill often leads to weight loss, a heart-pumping workout and a toned lower body. Regular use of one, however, sometimes also leads to foot pain and even injury. The odds of getting hurt are increased right off the bat, Podiatry Today notes, as most people walk at a pace of no more than 120 steps per minute. That pace increases, sometimes substantially, on a treadmill.
Foot pain and injury are not uncommon among treadmill users, Podiatry Today notes, mainly because of the increased amount of repetitive action the treadmill poses. The repetition, coupled with the increased incline and speed, sometimes stretches, strains or pulls parts of the foot beyond its normal comfort level. When you walk at a normal pace throughout the day, you average between 90 and 120 steps each minute. Using a treadmill increases that pace, sometimes substantially, depending on the speed you choose.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot problems that comes from treadmill use, Podiatry Today says. This condition is a strain or tear in the plantar fascia, which is the band of tissue along the bottom of your foot that connects the heel bone to the toes. Sharp, stabbing pain is one of the symptoms, which is usually the most severe when you first get on your feet to start the day or after sitting or standing for prolonged periods.
Intermetatarsal neuroma, also called Morton’s neuroma, is another common treadmill foot ailment, Podiatry Today says. This condition develops when tissue surrounding a nerve on the ball of your foot thickens and affects the nerve, leading to pain and even a burning sensation or numbness. Morton’s neuroma most frequently hits between the third and fourth toes and sometimes makes it feel like there is something stuck in your shoe.
Achilles tendonitis is another common foot ailment due to treadmill use, Podiatry Today says, as is a condition called equinus. Achilles tendonitis is the swelling of your Achilles tendon, or the band on the back of your calf that connects the calf muscles to your heel bone. The tendon can go from swollen to torn with repeated overextension and overuse. Equinus is marked with limited movement of the ankle joint, Foot Health Facts says, with the foot unable to move upward toward the shin. It often develops when the Achilles tendon is particularly tight. Those suffering from equinus often alter their gait to compensate for the limited movement, causing more problems.
Depending on the severity and the condition, a number of different treatments are in order, Podiatry Today notes. Severe conditions sometimes require surgery while the treatment for others includes a combination of rest and rehabilitation. Stretching your plantar fascia and other lower muscles before using the treadmill helps reduce injuries, as does keeping the incline at a lower grade.