I have been having issues with the nerve on the ball of my right foot for about the past week, similar to late last summer. Interestingly, this time around, I’m noticing the discomfort more so with running than with climbing, which is the opposite of what I reported last September. The lack of issues while climbing could be because of my shoes — last summer, I was climbing in Scarpa Force Vs, while lately, I’ve been wearing a pair of Tenaya Araís. Maybe the latter just agree with my feet better. The Scarpas are awaiting a resole, so I won’t be able to test that theory any time soon. It could also have something to do with my footwork, which I believe has improved over the past year or so.
Where running is concerned, I think I should adopt a new motto: “It’s the gait, stupid”. I started today’s run with a metatarsal pad on my right foot. Metatarsal pads have their place, and I’ve found that they often help with walking, static standing, and driving. Today, though, the pad seemed to aggravate the problem nerve. Two miles into the run, it was really bothering me, so I stopped to take the pad off. The nerve was still painful without the pad initially, and I was thinking I might have to cut the run short. Then, I noticed that on the right side, I seemed to be landing and pushing off towards the outside of the foot. I corrected that, mentally trying to engage the side of the foot towards the big toe, and the nerve discomfort improved significantly. Doing that must take pressure off whatever nerve is irritated. Flexing and relaxing my toes frequently, to keep them loose, also seems to help. Ultimately, I was able to complete my planned distance of 10K.
All of this has me wondering what is causing this recurring issue. It could be a combination of things: gait irregularities when walking/running, poor climbing footwork (climbing on the balls of my feet instead of the toes), etc. Hopefully, as I work to correct these, I’ll start seeing this problem less frequently. In the meantime, travel and other activities are going to prevent me from running or climbing as frequently as usual over the next couple of weeks, which might be a blessing in disguise, as it’ll give my feet a little bit of a break.