Questions & Answers

pain in the top of my foot

I'm new to minimalist running but haven't had any major issues in the transition, probably because I already spend a great deal of time barefoot or in flip flops.

Running in my Neos Saturday morning, I felt a sudden sharp pain in the top of my right foot above my toes. Was ~1/2 a mile from my car so I walked a bit and then ran a bit. The rest of the day I walked another 2+ miles because of some obligations I had.

I can barely walk now and have point-specific pain when I touch the top of my foot. No swelling or bruising that is noticeable.

It hurts when the ball of my foot pushes off while walking. Does not hurt when I'm just sitting or standing. When walking though, the pain radiates to my first 3 toes and hurts quite a bit. It also hurts when I flex my foot upward, but not down or side to side.

I've RIE'd(no compression) it the last two days and no ibuprofen.

Never had anything like this so what else should I do?


Answers and Replies


I currently have a stress fracture, so I've read up a lot on that. What you say sounds like it might be a stress fracture. You should definitely see a doctor. Stress fractures are kind of hard to diagnose, mine wasn't visable on the x-ray so I did a bone scintigraphy to see it. They can be hard to heal too since the foot is solicited so much. If it is and it isn't treated right it can take a long time to heal, or even never heal properly.

Also as a side note, walking barefoot DOES NOT use the same muscles or movements as running barefoot, it is not a preparation and if anything can work against you by giving you a false sense of your abilities. So hopefully you are fine, but take it slow, 5 minutes barefoot running max a few times a week, for the first few weeks, then build up slowly using the 10% rule (10% more distance per week). If you are injury prone, do two weeks 10% increase, then one week plateau. Count the 10% in terms of your overall running, but also in terms of your barefoot running. Don't forget rest days.

I wish I'd taken my own advice!


Thanks Niki!

I've been pretty good about the 10% rule and have had my Neos since early March so 3 miles +/- wasn't too out of the ordinary.

I scheduled a dr's appt for tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully it's nothing but will update with any news. Thanks again!


Hope you're OK! Looking forward to news!

After almost 3 months of my fracture not getting better on its own, I've got an appointment with an orthopedic doctor tomorrow to probably get a cast.


I missed my dr's call but he left a message letting me know the xray was clear- which we expected.

He thinks it's 'just a stress fracture so no running at all until it stops hurting' which works for me since I can't really even walk well.

I'm mad at myself...I swear I need hearing aids so I can listen better to my body and prevent these things.


I'm sorry to hear that!

I am exactly the same, with not learning from past mistakes and not listening to my body. I ran for a week on my fracture! And that made it a lot worst - added a severe tendonitis, which is still very tender.

I had been battling a super long term nagging case of runner's knee, then switched to minimalist running (VFFs) and in a few months was running further than ever with no pain, and I felt invincible! I went crazy and snap went my foot! My doctor told me no sports at all for at least the next two months. I've already been on the couch for almost 3!!! But my fracture is in the cuboid, which takes a lot longer to heal than a metatarsal fracture. Can you do a scintigraphie or MRI to confirm?

Hope you see some improvement soon. Keep my updated!


I'm a cheapskate (single income fam w/ 4 kids)so I didn't ask for an MRI to confirm.

I don't know very much about this particular injury...would confirming it's a stress fx vs. a stress reaction change the treatment...which is "don't do anything that makes it hurt"

From the little I've read a stress reaction is a precursor to a stress fracture but they present pretty much the same? (I may have misunderstood but that's what I gathered). But I don't know if they are treated the same way or have the same healing time.


that I appreciate your responses and that I'm sorry you're going through the same thing. Hoping for a speedy recovery for you! Thanks again!


Hope you two are healed up by now. It's a paradox, but in addition to being the main cause of stress fractures, running is also the best cure, since weight-bearing exercise causes bone deposition. So it's important to find the happy medium. When you're healing from a stress fracture, I definitely recommend getting out and doing a moderate amount that feels very easy, keeping in mind that it's a 'healing' workout, not a workout in the typical sense. I had a stress fracture two years ago, and as soon as it happened I switched over to biking to keep my fitness, and then after 4 weeks or so, even though I knew I wasn't completely healed, I very slowly reintroduced running. I had been doing 50-ish miles per week in a few different shoes (which had too much heel-toe drop, which I think caused the fracture), so I started back up again with 1-2 mile VFF runs, very slow. I think it made a difference. In any case, hope that helps.


I apologize for not coming back to update folks. I eventually had an MRI which confirmed multiple micro fractures in my 2nd metatarsel.

I didn't boot it because I have ITBS in the hip on the same side...wonky gait caused by a boot would not make my hip happy.

After 14 weeks I got the ok to run low miles on soft (not concrete/sidewalks) surfaces.

At my 14 week check up, however, I shared with my dr that while the top of my foot felt fine, the bottom, at the base of my 2nd toe, hurt when I walked on an uneven surface.

He thinks I have an attenuation of the plantar plate. So I'm not 100%, nowhere near it. But I've been able to do a little running which makes me happy. At some point, I'll be able to work up to some decent miles.

In the meantime I'm biking, lifting and swimming as often as I can and running about 3 times a week.


That's interesting, I have had a similar pain accompanied with swelling of my foot, plus some noticeable heat and redness across the top of the foot. A few days of elevation seems to clear up the problem.

The couple of times it's happened it's been heralded by a nasty cramp in the muscles around the big toe. Obviously different from your micro fractures (I think). My wife suggested gout (really!?). However, the pain isn't in the joint.

For the record my circulation seems to be fine.

I thought I'd add my experiences here for anyone else like myself who, on seeing the title of the post, thought, "Ooh I wonder if that's my problem?"

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