We all know that runners’ feet take a regular beating. All those miles we log can take a toll on the health of our feet, and, when those feet start to hurt, it’s not always easy to make them feel good again (especially if we are guilty of pushing through the pain). There are many different ways to hurt your feet running—you can strain your plantar fascia, leaving you with heel pain. You could step funny and twist your ankle. And you can develop a stress fracture from repetitive impact on the same spot.
Don’t you love having options? All joking aside, foot injuries can kill your runs! So, today, I’ll explain one foot injury that runners often develop—but are not so quick to identify and treat—an injury to the cuboid bone!
Hold on: what is a cuboid bone?
If you haven’t heard of this particular bone, don’t worry. You’re not alone. The cuboid bone is small. It’s shaped like a wedge and it sits on the outside of your foot (see the diagram on the right). But don’t let the cuboid’s size fool you—it’s got a big job! The cuboid bone supports the outside of your foot; it’s crucial to every move you make. Which is why, if you’ve irritated or injured your cuboid, running, walking or, really any movement at all will not feel great.
What injures the cuboid bone?
As it turns out, there are a bunch of different ways to bother your cuboid bone. They include, but aren’t limited to:
- Faulty biomechanics (when your natural gait is not optimal, due to the physical makeup of your body)
- Stepping on something hard
- Spraining your ankle
- Restricted movement in your ankle
- Uneven weight distribution in your body.
Any one of these factors can cause your cuboid bone to drop down, restricting its ability to move with your foot.
What are the symptoms of a cuboid injury?
When your cuboid bone is injured, your foot won’t splay well. This can make walking and running extremely painful, since an un-splayed foot doesn’t absorb shock very well. If you have a cuboid injury, you may also feel like you stepped on something, even if you haven’t.
Treating a cuboid injury
The first line of defense for a cuboid injury should be a gait analysis, to see if your biomechanics are triggering the pain. Custom orthotics may also help take pressure off the bone, making it possible to run again. And, as with any runners’ foot injury, you should always see your podiatrist to make sure you aren’t dealing with a stress fracture in the cuboid or any other foot or ankle bone.