In running you are always warned about doing too much, too fast. When a problem or injury occurs, it comes back to the reasoning that you did too much, too fast. While I absolutely believe this reasoning – it’s true to many aspects of life – hearing these wise words while you are in throws of an injury is just ridiculous. I’ve already done the damage, now what? I don’t want to hear about what I should do in the future, I want to know what I can do right now to stop this pain. And then, HOPEFULLY, I will remember the wise words as I ramp up training again (but, then again, I am a runner, so I might just forget them when I tie up my shoes for my next 10k training run).
So, you might wonder what my most recent rant is about, and what I abuse I have caused my body recently. So…let’s start from the beginning….
In mid-Spring I decided I wanted lighter, faster running shoes. I went to my local running store and talked to them about my gait, running preference, etc. They watched me on the treadmill and came back with several suggestions. I understand that finding the right shoe is extremely important in avoiding injuries in the future and that you need to find the right shoe for you because everyone is different. I was up to the challenge to find my next dream shoes. I diligently tried each of the suggested shoes. Making repeated trips from the shoe area to the treadmill and running about a quarter mile with each new pair. After about eight pairs and two miles on the treadmill I had narrowed down my choice to the Newton Motion V. The shoes felt great and I was intrigued by Newton’s Action/Reaction Technology. There are lugs near that ball of your foot that, in Newton’s words, “creates a responsive, trampoline-like cushioning system that provides quicker bounce-back and loses less energy than a traditional foam-core running shoe.” The sales person explained that this bar of lugs would improve my running form and help me to run on the balls of my feet inside of the back of the foot where I tended to run (but have deligiently been working on changing). I admit the shoes felt pretty weird with this raised bar across the ball of my foot, but I was promised I would get used to. I was super psyched to get out with my new shoes and I have to admit my first runs in the shoes I felt lighter and was clocking faster times. So, I was a convert. The Action/Reaction Technology still felt strange but I was ready to get used to it for the results I was getting. After runs I did feel some tingling and numbness in my toes, but thought that was pretty normal and the feeling always went away, so it wasn’t causing me any concern.
Fast forward to June 2017. My husband and I are taking our dream trip to Peru. The plan was to fly in to Cusco, Peru, acclimate a little to the elevation and then do the Lares Trek and head to Machu Picchu. The Lares Trek is an Inca Trail alternative that is less crowded and while it doesn’t take you directly to Machu Picchu, it takes you over a 15,000+ foot pass and takes you completely off the beaten path where you see stunning mountains, lakes and valleys and get to walk through villages and meet the people who live in the Lares Valley. While I was most concerned about making it from 8,000 feet to 15,000 feet to the top of the pass that actually turned about to be the easier part of the trek. (Yeah for no altitude sickness – living in Colorado really does pay off!) The air was definitely thinner but I felt comfortable scaling the mountains to reach our pass. The trip from 15,000 feet back to 8,000 feet is what took the toll on my body. The trail was made up of loose rock and at times was pretty steep. The constant pounding on the ball of my feet left me with the familiar numbness and tingling in my toes (just on my right foot).
One the third day of our trek when we finally made it to Auguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu we were dirty and exhausted and so excited to turn in our hiking boots for flip flops. After one of the best showers I had taken in my entire life I noticed that the numbness and tingling in my right foot was not getting any better. I mentioned it to my better half and we decided that it was just the pounding I put on my foot as we descended 7,000 feet. I didn’t really give it much more thought because we were in an amazing place getting ready to see a wonder of the world the next day.
Fast forward again to August 2017. It’s been almost two months since we got back from our amazing trip and we have settled back in to the dull drums of “regular” life. Pretty much work, work, and more work. Unfortunately, my toes were still feeling numb (just a few toes on my right foot) and I decided I needed to suck it up and find out what was going on, so I set up an appointment with my primary doctor. My health insurance requires you always start with your primary doctor for any problem and they will refer you on to a specialist if necessary. I completely understand the reseasoning behind this, but when it’s hard to find an hour to sneak away from work it’s even harder to find a couple hours on a couple different days to see a couple different doctors. Anyways, I went to my primary doctor and she was a little stumped. She sent me to go get x-rays to see if there was a stress fracture (there wasn’t) and then referred me to the orthopedic doctor. A couple days later I found myself at the orthopedic doctor and he briefly looked at my foot and diagnosed me with metatarsalgia. From my understanding, and the wise words of WebMD, metatarsalgia is a condition in which the ball of your foot becomes painful and inflamed and can be caused from running, jumping, or wear shoes that don’t fit right. After my diagnoses, I decided to take it easy on my foot for a while. I have cut down on the running and have been following the majority of the doctor’s suggestions, but I haven’t had any relief. My toes are still numb and sometimes my foot feels like its cramping up. Since my trip to the doctor was less then satisfactory I decided to do some of my own research on metatarsalgia and found quite a few articles about how switching from traditional running shoes to Newton’s can actually cause this problem. While I thought it was from our hike in Peru, it turns out the problem had probably already started long before our hike and the 7,000 foot descent was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I found the following on Newton’s blog “Forefoot pain, also known as ‘Metatarsalgia,’ is a condition indicated by pain and inflammation under the ball of the foot. This is increasingly prevalent in runners who are making a change to minimal footwear, barefoot running and Newton Running Shoes. As with virtually all running injuries, forefoot pain is a result of doing too much, too fast, too soon.” The blog then goes on to explain that I shouldn’t blame the shoes, but rather something I did, or something wrong with my foot that was there long before I switched to Newton’s. This is kind of frustrating because they obviously know this is an issue, but no one at the running store who sold me the shoes said anything about it. Yes, I should have done more research prior to my new shoe purchase but I was also hopefully that if this was an issue someone might have mentioned it to me.
Fast forward to today. My toes are still numb. I’m still trying to figure out how to make them better. But, they are numb whether I run or not so I am going to lace up my good ‘ol, trusty Brooks (with new arch supports that will hopefully help), and get back out there in hopes I can salvage my training for the Lake Powell Half Marathon in October.
Has any one else has similar issues with their feet? Any suggestions or words of wisdom you can share on what you did to make it better?
DISCLAIMER: This is not an anti-Newton’s story. I honestly really liked mine and wish they worked for me – I just wanted to share my experience in case anyone was going through anything similar. This experience has definitely opened my eyes to how shoes can have such a huge effect on our health and injuries and is going to change how I approach my next shoe purchase.