Sports & Exercise

Why Is There A Throbbing Pain in My Foot After Running?

Running is a great way to stay fit and maintain an active lifestyle. Going for a run just a few times each week has a multitude of health benefits, from strengthening your joints and improving your stamina, to stress relief and improving the quality of your sleep.

For individuals who run regularly, injuries are fairly common, and often to be expected. Running injuries can range from the harmless to the severe. Blisters, for example, won’t do much harm to your body in the long term. But if you develop plantar fasciitis, you could end up losing the full range of motion in your feet if you don’t seek treatment. Many athlete’s experience painful toenails following a run.

Many common problems with the feet present as a throbbing pain in the foot while running. This can be a sign of a range of different conditions.

If you’ve experienced a throbbing pain in your foot while running, it’s important to treat it immediately. Addressing the symptoms as well as the cause is the best course of action. But before you seek treatment, you’ll need to know what kind of condition you’re dealing with. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons for throbbing pain in the feet after running.

Are The Soles Of Your Feet Hurting After A Run?

If you’ve experienced pain in the soles of your feet after a run – a pain which is mostly a throbbing sensation – there are some different conditions that could be the cause. Here are just a few of them:

  • Plantar fasciitis – a tendon issue that can cause sharp pain at the bottom of the foot.
  • A stress fracture – common in runners, stress fractures can be hard to diagnose, even with x-rays.
  • Tendonitis – a painful condition where the tendons in the foot become inflamed and irritated.
  • Capsulitis – a condition that usually affects the second toe, but has also been known to affect the third and fourth.
  • Morton’s Neuroma – often caused by high-impact exercise, this condition causes pain primarily in the ball of the foot.

These are some of the most common reasons why your feet might throb or become painful after a run. Let’s take a look at these conditions in some more detail.

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia tendon runs across the bottom of the foot and can become aggravated when the feet are overused. The fibrous tissue that runs lengthways along the sole of the foot can become very painful, causing a sharp, stabbing sensation.

The condition is linked with tendonitis, but the position of this tendon means plant fasciitis comes with its own set of challenges. It can be caused by some factors, including:

  • Incorrect running shoes or trainers which don’t provide enough support for the feet
  • A sudden increase in training volume
  • A sudden increase in training intensity
  • Tight or weak calf muscles

Many people who start to train for marathons or long-distances races find that they struggle with plantar fasciitis. This is because they throw themselves into demanding training schedules to get ready for the race. A sudden rise in volume or intensity of running sessions can wreak havoc on the plantar fascia tendon.

There are also a range of other factors at play, including:

  • Weight – being overweight places more strain on the feet, and in particular, the tendons in the bottom of the feet.
  • Age – as you grow older, your chances of developing plantar fasciitis increase.
  • Gender – women are twice as likely to suffer from this condition as men.
Symptoms And Treatment Of Plantar Fasciitis

If you have plantar fasciitis, it’s likely you’ll feel pain underneath the heel. It might be tender to touch and will become worse when the feet and toes are pulled up. Standing on your tip-toes or walking upstairs may be especially painful.

To get an accurate diagnosis, you’ll need to see your doctor. They may need to do an x-ray to rule out a stress fracture or another condition that causes pain in the bottom of the feet.

If you’ve been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, there are a range of treatments available to you. The sooner you begin treatment, the faster the condition will improve. Popular treatments include splints, stretches, strengthening exercises and even custom-made orthotics that can help provide extra cushioning for the heel area. If you want extra cushioning and support, read our in-depth Superfeet Green Heritage Insoles Review.

Medication and injections can help address the pain if necessary, but this will not cure the condition. Surgery is also available as a last resort for those suffering from plantar fasciitis, but this should only be considered when other treatment options have been exhausted.

Stress Fracture

The feet are made up of an intricate network of bones, many of which are easily fractured or broken because they’re so thin and delicate. The metatarsals are the bones most commonly affected by stress fractures.

A stress fracture can cause mild pain at first, which gradually gets worse when you exercise. The pain can subside while you’re resting. If the fracture is left untreated, the pain will develop much faster, and is often sharper and more intense than when it started. There may also be some swelling and tenderness around the area.

One of the biggest challenges when dealing with a stress fracture is getting it diagnosed. Even x-rays can be unreliable in flagging up where the damage is. You may need to ask your doctor for an MRI or a bone scan to pinpoint the cause of your pain.

Symptoms & Treatment of Stress Fractures

Unfortunately for those who love to stay active, or those who are training for a specific event, the best cure for a stress fracture is rest. You should aim to stop running for 6-8 weeks, to avoid causing a more severe fracture. Low-impact exercise like swimming is recommended for those who want to keep fit.

You may also need to wear some walking shoe or brace to support the foot while the bone heals. A splint or a cast may be needed to keep the foot in place. The good news is that once a stress fracture has healed, you’ll be able to run as normal, and the pain will subside entirely.


We’ve already established that your legs, ankles, and feet are filled with tendons, which help to keep the entire foot moving. When these tendons become inflamed, it can be incredibly painful. This is called tendonitis.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of tendonitis can be very similar to a stress fracture – with one key difference. Apply pressure to your toes as you raise them. If this action isolates the pain, it’s likely you have a problem with tendons rather than a fracture.

There are many different causes of tendonitis. You could be wearing the wrong shoes, have a tight Achilles tendon or weak calf muscles that force your tendons to put in more work. Tendonitis will subside if you ensure your shoes are supportive enough (you can use splints, inserts or supports to help), as well as making sure you stretch and strengthen your calves as much as possible with each workout.


This is when the ligaments surrounding the joint at the base of the toe (usually the second toe) become inflamed. This can cause enormous discomfort for the sufferer and must be treated as soon as possible. If left without treatment, the condition can lead to the surrounding ligaments to weaken, which could cause a full dislocation of the toe.

If you suffer from a severe bunion, a second toe longer than your big toe, a tight calf muscle or an unusually high foot arch, you will be more at risk of developing capsulitis. Early symptoms you can look out for include:

  • Swelling around the base of the toe
  • Pain when walking or running
  • Difficulty wearing most kinds of shoes
  • Pain in the ball of the foot

If you miss the early symptoms, or if they’re misdiagnosed, the unstable toe can start to drift towards the big toe. Eventually, it will start to cross over the big toe, which is enormously painful and can be difficult to walk or stand on.

The symptoms of capsulitis are very similar to Morton’s Neuroma (more on that soon), so it can be difficult to diagnose properly. The two conditions are treated differently, so it’s vital that your doctor or podiatrist makes the right call when deciding which issue you’re suffering with.

Capsulitis can be treated in some ways. Splinting and taping are important in helping the toe to remain in the right position, rather than creeping across towards the big toe. Calf stretches should also be carried out regularly – tight calves can have a bigger impact on foot health than you might realize.

Modified shoes are recommended – if you suffer from capsulitis, you should look for shoes that offer support while reducing the pressure on the ball of the foot. Shoe inserts can also help to distribute the weight away from the ball of the foot, reducing the pain and allowing the ligaments time and space to heal.

Morton’s Neuroma

This usually presents as pain in the ball of the foot, which radiates towards the third and fourth toes. Some people who suffer from this condition say it feels like a stone or a marble is stuck in their shoe.

Like many foot-related conditions, Morton’s Neuroma can be very painful. It’s often caused by high-impact sports like running. The impact of the foot hitting the ground over and over again can cause trauma to the nerves in the feet, leading to pain and discomfort.

If you suffer from other foot conditions like bunions or hammer toes, it’s more likely that you’ll also suffer from Morton’s Neuroma. The condition won’t cause any long-term damage to the foot, but it can make everyday activities like walking very painful and may prevent you from taking part in sport or exercise in the future.

Treatments for Morton’s Neuroma include arch supports and foot pads, which can help to cushion the foot when you walk or run. It’s also important to invest in the right shoes, both for everyday activity and specifically for running.

Foot keep throbbing after going for a run

How To Prevent Throbbing Pain In The Feet After Running

Each of the conditions listed here has very different symptoms and treatment plans – but they can all be caused or exacerbated by running. If you’re a regular runner, here are some things you can do to reduce the risk of developing any of these painful conditions:

  • Choose the right shoes. A huge number of conditions that affect the feet can be addressed simply by choosing appropriate footwear. You should invest in high-quality shoes that support the feet, both for everyday wear and for running and other exercises.
  • Get a gait analysis. Many sports shops will now offer a gait analysis to help establish where your feet strike the ground when you run. This can help you to find more suitable shoes that will support your feet when running.
  • Always stretch properly, both before and after a run. Tight calves can be responsible for a range of conditions, from tendonitis to capsulitis.
  • Work with a trainer to come up with a plan that doesn’t involve a sudden increase in training volume or intensity. Gradually build up to faster runs and longer distances, rather than throwing yourself in at the deep end.
  • Self-massage your feet with a tennis ball. Sit with the ball under your feet after a run, and roll it along the arch of your foot. This can provide relief across the entire area. There are also some excellent vibrating foot massager machines available.
  • If you notice your feet are swollen after a run, ice them for a few minutes. This will provide fast relief and cause the swelling to subside much faster.

Take Action To Treat Painful, Throbbing Feet

As you can see, there are some reasons why you might be suffering from throbbing in your feet, especially after running. The most important thing is to seek a diagnosis quickly and have the problem treated.

Many of the conditions listed here will only get worse without treatment. The longer the condition is allowed to progress, the harder it will be to treat eventually. If you leave it for too long, surgery may be your only treatment option. With long recovery times and a potentially stressful experience, surgery is not ideal – which is why you should act fast when you start to notice a throbbing pain in your feet after running.