Burning Feet While Running? We Explore Why

No pain, no gain…right? While it's true that some discomfort while working out may mean that you're pushing your body to its limits and getting stronger, you shouldn't ignore persistent pain or discomfort while running. 

One of the more common complaints runners have is that over the course of their workouts, they may begin to notice an unpleasant burning sensation in their feet. If this is something you're experiencing, you might be wondering whether it's normal and, if not, what you can do about it.

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Causes of Burning Feet While Running

Ideally, you shouldn't be experiencing any burning during your runs. If you are, there are some common causes that you'll want to explore and rule out. The good news is that many of these causes are relatively harmless and can be remedied with some simple changes.

The Wrong Shoe/Fit

Make sure you choose the right shoes for running

A shoe that doesn't fit properly will often lead to a burning sensation in the feet when running. That's because when shoes are too small, this can restrict the circulation of air and blood throughout the feet themselves. As a result, your feet may swell and trigger that uncomfortable burning sensation.

Of course, shoes that are too large can also be problematic. Too-large shoes will result in additional friction between your feet and your shoe fabric, which can also present as a burning sensation.

If you haven't been professionally fitted for a custom pair of running shoes, now is the time to consider treating yourself to this luxury. A perfectly fitting pair of running shoes can make all the difference in your comfort and performance, and is worth every penny.

The Wrong Fabric

Even if your shoes are a perfect fit, the wrong fabric on your socks and/or shoes could also contribute to burning feet while running. Ideally, you should stick to shoes and socks with breathable fabric that will allow for proper airflow. Otherwise, your feet are bound to get hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable.

When shopping for running shoes, look for options with mesh for added air circulation; stay away from all-leather designs, which may look stylish but are not very practical. With socks, try to stay away from cotton (which can cause your feet to sweat even more) and instead opt for fabrics that will wick moisture away and keep your feet as cool as possible.

Athlete's Foot

If your shoes fit properly and you're getting plenty of air circulation to your feet while you're running, then the cause of your burning feet might actually be a medical condition. One of the most common medical conditions runners experience that can manifest itself with symptoms like burning feet is that of athlete's foot.

Specifically, athlete's foot is a fungal infection that tends to grow in damp places, like sweaty running shoes and socks. Often, people suffering from athlete's foot will experience burning, itching, and red or inflamed feet. With athlete's foot, you might experience burning during your runs as well as after you've returned home and have taken your shoes off.

There are plenty of over-the-counter products, such as powders and creams, that are designed to treat athlete's foot at home. If you have athlete's foot, you should also swap out your running shoes and make more of an effort to wash and completely dry your feet after workouts.

Other Tips for Avoiding Burning Feet While Running

Get the most out of your run with the right kit

In addition to the advice already offered, consider some other tips for protecting your feet from that unpleasant burning while you run. This includes:

  • using a lubricant, such as a foot powder, before you go for a run
  • trying out a pair of insoles specifically designed for running
  • allowing your shoes to dry out completely in between runs

When to Consult With Your Doctor

If you've tried over-the-counter athlete's foot remedies and are still suffering from burning feet while running, it's best to consult with your doctor or physician for further investigation. 

In some cases, underlying and more serious medical conditions like peripheral neuropathy (a type of nerve damage) may be to blame — and only a doctor will be able to provide you with the proper diagnosis and treatment. In the meantime, it may be a good idea to take a break from running so as to avoid any further complications.

The Final Word on Burning Feet While Running

If you've been wondering, “why do my feet burn when I run?” hopefully you're a few steps closer to having some answers and solutions. At the end of the day, burning feet during or after a run is not normal, so it's important to get to the root of the problem. From there, you can better enjoy your running workouts and protect yourself from long-term problems.

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