I know, I know. They are so cute. And dresses and skirts look so much better with some sort of heel- at least a wedge, right?
Listen to my PSA. You love running right? It’s not worth it!
Not for this runner.
I mentioned in my weekly recaps that I have been experiencing some pain under my big toe. It started a few weeks ago after pacing my sister at the Twin Cities Marathon, but it was truly aggravated when I wore high heels the whole day at work, which was a day that included A LOT of standing and walking, and then more walking/standing during a dinner and into the evening.
That following weekend I ran the Hot Cider Hustle with my friend Vicki. After the race, my toe was VERY sore. We hiked around Taylors Falls that day, only aggravating it some more. I took the next two days off of running.
After two days of rest, it seemed healed so I jumped back into running on Tuesday. As I continued to run throughout the week, I figured the pain would lessen. I assumed it was just sore from the heel-wearing day.
Yet the pain was still nagging and I started to get worried.
I turned to Google (always a smart choice, right?) to self-diagnose.
I thought it might be turf toe. Turf toe is a common injury for football players (and other athletes). It’s usually a sudden strain though. My pain was gradual and seemed to be more of an overuse injury. So then Google suggested that perhaps it was sesamoiditis or Morton’s Neoroma.
I continued to run on it. The pain wasn’t terrible, but it was still bothering me. I was icing it after each run. I started to get worried that running on it going to make it something serious.
I needed more information from someone other than Google.
Like any paranoid runner who wants to continue running ALL THE MILES FOREVER AND EVER, I wanted a diagnosis. I went to Bier+Brauer Chiropractic Tuesday morning. After describing my symptoms, he had me do a few simple movements- walk on my heels, walk on my toes, rise up and down on my toes, walk normal, etc. Then he did some soft tissue work on the foot.
His diagnosis? Sesamoiditis. Just as I had self-diagnosed (Thanks Google! Who even needs a doctor?)
As he did the soft tissue work on the sore area, it was easy to pinpoint the pain to exactly the two spots where the sesamoid bones are located around my big toe.
- Back off of running- it’s okay to run, but nothing too aggressive for two to three weeks.
- Ice as much as you can.
- Purchase toe cushions for your shoes (I bought a bunch of these and these)
- Tape the big toe to its neighbor toe especially for running
But the doctor’s #1 tip? NO MORE HEELS.
He explained to me just how bad heels are for you. Other than sesamoiditis, there are plenty of other issues caused by wearing heels. But sesamoiditis is definitely an issue for people who wear high heels. Mine was probably originally aggravated from when I paced my sister; my gait was altered due to the different pace.
But the real culprit? High heels.
Of course, pounding the pavement on my foot after it was aggravated didn’t help. Yet I believe that it would not have become an issue if I hadn’t worn those darn heels!
I don’t even wear heels that often, so that’s the frustrating part (though also part of the problem- if you wear them more frequently, your sesamoid bones might actually toughen up a bit.)
But no worries- this is not a terrible injury. It should not affect Boston Marathon training. My feet just need a little TLC!
Here’s a little more information about sesamoiditis just in case you ever encounter this issue: (source)
“Most bones in the human body are connected to each other at joints. But there are a few bones that are not connected to any other bone. Instead, they are connected only to tendons or are embedded in muscle. These are the sesamoids. The kneecap (patella) is the largest sesamoid. Two other very small sesamoids (about the size of a kernel of corn) are found in the underside of the forefoot near the great toe, one on the outer side of the foot and the other closer to the middle of the foot. Sesamoids act like pulleys. They provide a smooth surface over which the tendons slide, thus increasing the ability of the tendons to transmit muscle forces. The sesamoids in the forefoot also assist with weight bearing and help elevate the bones of the great toe. Like other bones, sesamoids can break (fracture). Additionally, the tendons surrounding the sesamoids can become irritated or inflamed. This is called sesamoiditis and is a form of tendinitis. It is common among ballet dancers, runners and baseball catchers.”
And if you still want to wear heels? Here are a few articles that might change your mind:
High heels shift much of your mass onto the balls of your feet and your tiny, delicate toe bones. Therefore, sesamoiditis is most likely to occur in women who wear high heels frequently as that keeps the toe joint in such an extreme position constantly. People who do activities that repeatedly flex their toes are also at risk, such as runners. (High heels + running = bad combo!)
The real harm in heels: Choose dressy flats!
Now, I’m not going to swear off heels forever. There will be occasions where I will wear them but only for short periods of time and definitely not for a full day at work plus more…Lesson learned!
Are you a high heels wearer? Is there another style sacrific you’ve made in the name of running? Please share!