Arch Pain After Running: 10 Quick Tips to Find Relief

Written By Alecsa Stewart
Scientifically Reviewed by Daniel Chantigian

Pain in the arch of the foot, especially after running, is often a sign of an injury known as plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of deep tissue in the arch of your foot. This inflammation can occur for various reasons, from wearing the wrong shoes to simple overuse (e.g. running or walking too much without giving your body the rest it needs). You may be experiencing arch pain after running for physical reasons, too. For example, if you have naturally high arches and not enough foot support, running and walking can become painful.

In this article, we’ll look at 10 easy and actionable tips for healing arch pain after running. Read on to see what you can do to prevent, treat, and recover from foot and arch pain after running.

How to Prevent and Treat Foot Arch Pain After Running

Depending on what is causing the pain in the arch of the foot, there may be ways to prevent or remedy your arch pain.

1. Choose the Right Running Shoes

Supportive shoes and socks are the basis of healthy feet for runners, and you need to understand what best fits your feet and running style. Research shows that supportive running shoes reduce your risk of injury as compared to barefoot or minimal shoes. For example, if you log many miles on roads, then you’ll need shoes that provide the right level of cushion to protect your feet and joints when you land repeatedly on hard surfaces. Microtraumas are caused in your muscles and joints when you run on the road, according to the 2nd edition of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Secrets. So, the more you run, the more you should consider ways to relieve the pressure you put on your body.

On the other hand, if you prefer to run on trails, then you’ll need shoes with protective design features. Good trail running shoes offer cushioning and protect your feet from hitting rocks and trail debris. Trail running shoes can have a better hold on your foot as well as with adequate arch support. A simple accident like getting a small stone in your shoe during a run can cause damage, including arch pain.

To find the best running shoes for you, start out by going to your local running store and trying on different pairs. Do some online research comparing makes and models but rely first and foremost on how you feel when you try the shoes on. Good running shoe stores often do running gait analysis, which tells you what you need in shoes to make sure you have good running form. Try and do a running test on a treadmill indoors. That way, if you don’t like the shoes, you can always return them after a short trial run. 

2. Wear Compression Socks

The second key of the footwear equation is your choice of running socks. Thicker, more protective socks help prevent blisters and rubbing during long runs, but thick socks can lack breathability and may feel uncomfortable in the heat. Choosing the right material will keep your feet dry and blister-free. Merino wool is an excellent choice for this, since it allows air to circulate to your feet on hot days and keeps them warm and dry on cool days.

However, material isn’t everything. Good socks for running long distances should also provide added support to the arch of the foot and protection against blisters. This is why runners often turn to compression socks. Compression socks prevent blisters and play a big role in injury and fatigue prevention and in recovery. Wearing graduated compression socks stimulates peripheral blood flow, which has been found by some studies to improve exercise performance and reduce the risk of swelling and discomfort during long runs. Moreover, the tight grip these socks have on your feet and ankles provides a welcome support to the area, including the arches of the feet. 

Discover breathable merino wool socks to support you during your runs.

compression socks for arch pain

3. Stretch Before and After Running

Stretching is important for runners, but it’s not just the muscles that can benefit from it. In fact, foot and ankle mobility and strength are the key to preventing arch pain while running. Studies show that decreased ankle dorsiflexion increases the risk of plantar fasciitis, which is a key cause of pain in the arch of the foot.

Increasing the range of motion of your toes and feet overall could also help prevent the foot from cramping, which is a common cause of foot arch pain during running. You can work on this by massaging your foot by rolling it on a tennis ball or doing toe stretches (point and flex your toes to their full range of motion a few times on each side).

It is important to know that pre-run stretches should be more dynamic, and post-run stretching and massage should be slower and more deliberate.

4. Strengthen Your Foot Muscles

You can also work on the strength of your foot muscles to support weaker arches or flat feet. The Mayo Clinic suggests that strengthening the foot can help you prevent arch pain due to plantar fasciitis. Foot strengthening exercises for arch pain also increases the support for the small tendons and muscles in the foot.

Foot strengthening exercises can include:

  • Working on your big toe mobility by moving it outwards, focusing on keeping the rest of the toes from moving with it
  • Make a “wave” with your toes, raising them in sequence and slowly bringing them down one by one; start with the little toe for a few reps, then reverse the order
  • Splay your toes out on a mat without lifting them
  • Make a “short foot” by pulling the toes back towards your heel, trying not to scrunch them (so the work is done by the middle part of your foot); you will move very little at first, and that’s normal!

5. Maintain Proper Running Form

Various studies tell us that good running form, also called your run gait, can reduce the risk of injuries, while also improving your running performance. You can have your running form assessed in specialty running shops by running on a treadmill. This will help with your choice of footwear, too, as the sales representative can determine whether you need any arch support (for example, if your feet tend to roll inwards when you land, also known as overpronation).

To work on your running form, think of landing with your feet close to your center of gravity, as opposed to striding out far in front. An easier way to do this is to think of the foot as a tripod, with one point under the big toe, one under the little toe, and one under the heel. If you imagine yourself landing evenly on all three, you will automatically begin to move your feet closer to your center of gravity. This could reduce the impact of landing on your joints and helps you spend less time on the ground. Studies like this one found that less time spent on the ground leads to better running efficiency and fewer injuries.

6. Increase Mileage and Intensity Gradually

Runners’ feet and legs are especially prone to overuse injuries. Overuse injuries often cause arch pain, and these injuries arise when you ramp up the volume or the intensity of your running too quickly. This can happen when you’re very excited for your training, but it can quickly lead to you having to take time out from running. So, it’s important to be patient!

To avoid arch pain from running too much, too quickly, create a training plan and progress gradually every week. You can download a training plan for your goal race online, join a running club, or work with a coach. This will help you stay accountable, too, ticking off every session and building confidence as well as strength and endurance. Be sure to listen to your body. If you are experiencing pain, it might be time to back off your intensity.


 Improve your running recovery thanks to compression socks.

arch pain and compression sleeves

7. Incorporate Cross-Training

A good way to keep running intensity and volume manageable, while still exercising regularly, is to do other sports or exercises. Cross-training could make you a better runner by building your cardiovascular fitness with less impact on the body and strengthening your legs to reduce your risk of injury or arch pain. One idea is to plan for one day a week of cycling, which can increase leg strength while providing excellent cardio. And, to keep things fun, why not sign up for a group exercise class with your friends? Cross-training that can help your running includes Pilates and yoga, where you’ll work on stability, balance, range of motion, and core strength. Weightlifting (also called resistance exercise) is another excellent choice! Studies have found that resistance exercise can reduce your risk of injury while running.

If you’re suffering from arch pain in your feet from running too much or in the wrong type of shoes, then you can stay active by taking to the water. Swimming is great cardio that reduces impact on your lower leg joints. You can also do aqua jogging, where you mimic running on land, but at the shallow end of the pool. Ideally, you should wear a flotation device like armbands to keep you floating in the deeper end of the pool, so you can move your legs as if you were running. You can find some ideas about how to get started with aqua jogging here.

8. Apply Ice to Reduce Inflammation

The classic at-home treatment for plantar fasciitis is the RICE method - rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Applying ice to the foot helps bring down the inflammation from running. So, you’ll feel better quicker, after using an ice pack for about 20 minutes. Combine this with elevating the feet and then put on your favorite pair of compression socks to support and massage your lower limbs.

9. Elevation and Rest

Rest and elevation are the other elements in the RICE method for dealing with plantar fasciitis and pain in the arch of the foot. Of course, taking a break from running is advised, since walking or running will make the pain worse once the pain has occurred. Elevation may reduce inflammation by boosting blood flow from the legs back towards the heart. This can also reduce the feeling of pain in the feet.

10. Consult with a Podiatrist

While the methods we’ve listed here can all help with pain in the arch of the foot to some extent, if your arch pain persists, look for a personalized, medical approach that works for you. A podiatrist is a great place to start, as they’re the type of medical professional who can assess your gait, your running shoes, and your feet, to give you a holistic answer to your problems. They can also design custom orthotics to give you the arch support you need.

arch pain running tips

What Causes Arch Pain After Running?

Arch pain after running is usually caused either by wearing inadequate footwear or by lack of a proper warm-up for your run. It can also be brought on by overtraining, which happens when you run too much too quickly or increase the intensity of your workouts too soon. Because of this, inflammation and injury to the tissue cause arch pain. You may also get soreness in your arch from tight calf muscles (hence the importance of warming up properly) or from the terrain you run (for example, stepping on sharp rocks on a trail run when you wear shoes without enough cushioning).

Can Running Shoes Cause Arch Pain?

Yes, running shoes can cause arch pain if they do not offer the right type of support for your feet or if the shoes are not the right type of shoe for the terrain you run on. People with high arches need to strengthen their feet to avoid arch pain but can also benefit from shoes with support for overpronators. Trail runners need to look for shoes with adequate underfoot protection, so they don’t get sore arches from stepping on stones and other trail debris.

Is It Safe to Run with Arch Pain?

Pain in the arch of your foot is a signal that there is inflammation or injury in the area. If it’s bearable and you continue to run with the pain, you risk aggravating the inflammation and ending up with a bigger injury. Instead, rest your feet, apply ice to the soles of the feet, and elevate them to encourage blood flow and reduce inflammation. Wear high-quality compression socks that will support the foot and improve peripheral circulation to speed up your recovery.

Does Arch Pain Go Away on Its Own?

Arch pain can go away on its own through rest, depending on the underlying cause of it. If you’ve developed plantar fasciitis, for example, you may need to rest for several months. Physical therapy can also soothe your arch pain from plantar fascia while helping you regain strength and mobility in the feet.

However, for non-injury pain, such as if you’re wearing inadequate shoes, you can expect arch pain to go away as soon as you’ve switched footwear. It’s all highly personal and linked to your circumstances. So, make sure you listen to your body, follow the tips above depending on your source of pain, and consult with a doctor if the pain persists.



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