Runner’s Injuries: Sesamoiditis

Sesamoiditis? What is that? Well, it’s a runner’s overtraining or overuse injury and guess who’s got it? Me. Most of my life, I’ve rarely dealt with chronic injuries. It didn’t mean that I didn’t get injuries or aches and pains, but I rarely thought about the cause or how to properly “treat” the injury. I usually just waited until things got better, but the quality of my workout suffered in the meantime.

I think the worst overall I’ve had were the shin splints I used to get when I first started running high school track, but that type of injury rarely ever bothers me these days. Now that I’m training to be a personal trainer, though, and learning how to help people take care of these types of injuries in order to heal from them properly and continue to reach their fitness goals, this isn’t the sort of thing I can ignore and hope goes away any longer. I need to understand it and I need to learn how to advise people on how to adapt their fitness programs to the injury in order to heal.

What is overtraining?

First of all, we have to understand what overtraining is. Overtraining occurs when you don’t give your body the proper time to rest and it drastically impedes your ability to progress physically. Both avid fitness buffs and those new to fitness activities believe that the more we train the better. That isn’t quite true though. If your body does not have adequate time to heal from injuries and your workouts, your ability to succeed and make progress will be drastically curtailed.

Here are the signs of overtraining, according to the ACE Personal Trainer Manual, 5th Edition:

  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Decreased hunger on multiple days
  • Decline in physical performance
  • Excessive fatigue

What is an overuse injury?

An overuse injury is typically the type of injury that results from overtraining over time. “The most common type of injury sustained by persons participating in physical activity is the overuse injury” (ACE Personal Training Manual, 5th Edition, 130). These sorts of injuries usually occur from poor execution of the exercises or movements over time.

The following are examples of other overuse injuries:

  • Runner’s knee
  • Swimmer’s shoulder
  • Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
  • Shin splints (pain in the anterior lower leg)
  • Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) (pain along the outside of the thigh and knee)

What is Sesamoiditis?

Sesamoiditis is and inflammatory condition, commonly afflicting runners, basketball players, and ballet dancers, that causes pain below the big toe on the ball of the foot. It usually occurs due to the excessive weight and force exerted upon the feet without proper recovery or rest periods.

You should always consider consulting your doctor if you feel you have this afliction, but there are a few steps you can take at home to help resolve some of your pain and get back into running form:

Stretch out the toe

The stretch I did most often was to place my big toe against a chair leg or a wall to really stretch out the tendons surrounding the sesamoid bones. Below is an example. I did this a few times a day for two minutes. It’s especially important to do this after a workout.

Prop your big toe up against a chair leg or a wall corner
Prop your big toe up against a chair leg or a wall corner
Another view

Replace old worn-out shoes

It had actually been quite some time since I’ve replaced my running shoes. The soles were starting to wear away and I think that that may have contributed to the current issue I was having and could potentially lead to more down the road.

It’s recommend to change your running shoes at least every 3-6 months or 500 miles. I was well overdue. I looked up recommendations on footwear that were good for both running and walking and addressed my particular issue and I found the Nike Women’s Air Zoom Pegasus 35. They’re sleek and elegant and good for both running and walking bouts.

Nike Women’s Air Zoom Pegasus 35 Walking & Running Shoes

Reduce pressure on that part of the foot

I believe that more than just running contributed to my injury. I also do lunges (forward, reverse, and pulsing) from time to time with dumbbells. I think the amount of weight I placed on my foot might have put more than enough pressure to cause my injury. I also have to consider whether or not overdoing the exercises could have potentially resulted in bad form and further exacerbated the injury. Knowing that, I decided to take a break from lunging and weights altogether and I’ve seen a tremendous improvement in tolerable range of movement of my foot. I’m not there yet, but doing these at home remedies did go far in reducing my pain.

Reduce running days/Modify your workout

There are numerous things I could do it lighen up on the pressure that’s placed on my feet when running. I could run on softer ground like grass or trails instead of pavement or the treadmill. I had to modify my workout to include a little bit less running in order to reduce the pressure placed on that part of my foot, but I still wanted to get the most out of my workouts. That’s why on my strength days, I decided to start doing elliptical warm-ups instead of treadmill warm-ups. That way for about four days a week, I wasn’t running for any type of cardio.

Concentrate on form

Knowing that I may have gotten this injury because I wasn’t exercising with the best form, made me realize that I need to dial back my strength training regimen and start back with the basics. I’m concentrating on getting my best form for the basic movements first before adding on weight. Knowing that this injury could have been caused because I wasn’t exercising correctly or efficiently, made me realize that there can be other places in my workout where I could potentially run into the same issue. Stay safe, people!


All in all, if the injury persists or worsens you should definitely go see your doctor. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t really advise you on what you should do for your particular situations. I wanted to write this down to help my readers be mindful about their injuries and know that there are simple options to relieve them and hoping they go away isn’t always the best approach. So, anytime that you’re in pain and you don’t know why, do you research to mitigate any circumstances that may worsen your injury and talk to a doctor if the injury persists without any improvement!

Author: Coach Robyn J.

All great things start with a leap of faith.

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