If you’ve been noticing that your feet burn when running, you’re not alone. Experiencing burning feet during or after a run could be a result of multiple different things – but luckily, it’s usually fairly easy to fix.
Why do my feet burn when running?
There are a number of reasons it might feel like your feet are burning while running. This sensation might also be described as “hot feet”, tingling, pins and needles or the sensation of being on fire.
In some cases, this might be a cause of improper fitting shoes or socks, or simply a result of improper running form. In other cases, burning feet could signal something more serious, like Athlete’s Foot or a result of nerve damage in the feet.
Anatomy of the Foot
Most runners notice that their feet burn around the ball of the foot when running. This small refined area of the foot is far from simple – it is surprisingly complex. Its technical name is the Plantar Metatarsal Area, and contains all of the following.
- Blood vessels
- Muscle tendons
- Fat tissue
If any one of these things gets injured, off balance or irritated in any way, it could result in the feeling of your feet burning on the run. A burning sensation when running is not only irritating, but can be downright painful. Here is what you should know if you’re struggling.
Causes of Burning Feet While Running
Hot or burning feet when running is something that should never be ignored. However, before you decide how you wish to treat or evaluate the issue, you’ll want to try and narrow down a potential cause. If you’re experiencing burning feet while running, it is likely a result of one (or a few) of the following.
- Improper fitting shoes
- Foot type and shape
- Worn out insoles
- Shoe allergies
- Wrong socks
- Running technique
- Athlete’s Foot
- Peripheral Neuropathy
Narrowing down potential causes of your burning feet will help you rid the problem as quickly and effectively as possible. Oftentimes, the cause is obvious. However, there are some times when it might take a bit of experimentation or professional evaluation to determine the cause.
Improper fitting shoes
One of the most common causes of feet burning while running is improper fitting shoes. Shoes that are too tight across the ball of the foot will compress the foot, which can lead to pain and eventually a burning sensation.
Foot type and shape
The arch shape and natural form of the foot can also sometimes be a cause for extra rubbing or friction, leading to a burning feeling. High arches commonly cause rubbing under the big and little toe joints, whereas flatter feet tend to notice burning in the middle of the foot.
Worn out insoles
Much like improper fitting shoes, worn out insoles can also cause a burning or hot feeling on the feet when running. Thin, worn-out insoles provide little cushioning, which can result in a great deal of rubbing and friction with continued use.
Another less common cause, but still one to consider, is shoe allergies. Many running shoes are produced using some common allergens. If you are consistently having issues with burning in your feet while running, it might be worth considering an allergic reaction.
Socks are another surprisingly common cause of burning in the feet. Improper fitting socks, socks that retain moisture, or socks made of certain materials could all be the cause.
Improper running form and technique might also be the culprit. Poor form might place too much stress on the bottom of the foot – things like overstriding or improper foot strike could each cause a burning sensation.
Athlete’s Foot is a fungal infection that lives and thrives in damp environments. It usually causes burning, pain, stinging or a hot feeling in the effected areas and is commonly found in runners.
One cause that would need to be professionally evaluated and treated by a doctor is Peripheral Neuropathy. This condition is caused by nerve damage to the foot, sometimes as a result of diabetes.
While there certainly might be another reason your feet burn when running, these are the most common causes. If you’re struggling with this type of pain during and/or after a run, looking into any potential cause is a very helpful starting point.
How to Prevent Your Feet Burning When Running
Once you’ve determined what is most likely causing the burning sensation in your feet, you’ll be able to use that to guide you as you attempt to treat and prevent it from reoccurring. Here are some simple ways to help fix and prevent your feet burning when running.
Get properly fitted for running shoes
The easiest way to ensure that your running shoes are not the cause of the problem is to get in and get professionally fitted for shoes. Most running stores offer shoe fittings, which can provide valuable insight about your arch type, foot strike and stride.
Assess your form and technique
Another service that is commonly offered at running stores, and available in physical therapy as well, is evaluation of your running form and technique. Getting evaluated will help you pinpoint any areas that need adjustment or might be causing extra rubbing or friction – such as a heel strike or overstriding.
Try foot orthotics
Orthotics are easy to find and available just about anywhere. There are many over the counter options, and some more specialized options that can be tailored specifically to your foot structure. Adding orthotics to your running shoes provide extra cushioning and support.
Change up your socks
Switching your socks is another simple and easy fix if your feet are burning due to irritation or moisture. Avoid cotton socks, as they tend to hold moisture, as well as wool socks that can be irritating to the skin. Investing in a few high-quality pairs of socks designed specifically for running is a great way to go.
Rotate running shoes
Worn down running shoes could be another potential cause of running and irritation that leads to a burning sensation. The best way to avoid this is to rotate running shoes throughout your training season. When shoes have between 300-400 miles on them, it’s time for new ones.
Use anti-chafing glide
A simple and readily available way to prevent rubbing, blisters and friction is to use an anti-chafing glide such as Body Glide. These are easy to find and help lube up areas on the feet that might be rubbing and causing your burning feet when running.
Check for symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
Before going to great lengths to switch up your gear, check yourself to symptoms of Athlete’s Foot. Evaluate exactly where this burning sensation is coming from, what the skin looks like, and whether or not it goes away when you stop running.
Try a different lacing technique
Another simple option to give yourself more space and comfort in your running shoes is to try different lacing techniques. There are a great deal of shoe lacing techniques tailored to individual issues you may be experiencing that can provide great relief.
Use foot powder
Foot powder is readily available and a relatively cheap way to see if you can find some relief. Powders are a great way to absorb any excess moisture that might be causing burning.
Immediately change out of shoes and socks
Another way to prevent lingering moisture is to quickly change out of your shoes and socks after a run. Taking off your shoes and socks will prevent your feet from staying in a moist or wet environment.
Tape over hot spots
If you’re noticing burning in your feet in a specific spot when running, taping over the affected areas might help provide some relief. Try using some athletes tape, such as KT Tape, to see if it helps.
If your feet burn when running, you’re probably ready to try just about anything to make it stop. Luckily, in most cases, it is a relatively quick fix once you find the cause. If you’ve tried just about everything and nothing seems to be working though, it’s probably time to check in with your doctor or healthcare provider.