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The response to the question below was authored by Marc Mitnick DPM

lateral foot pain on elliptical

by karen
(san antonio, tx, usa)


I bought an elliptical and I have noticed that I am having a lot of pain on the outside of my right foot when I use it, not my left foot, not heel pain. I do tend to supinate a lot, but I don't get this pain when walking in my every day life. The elliptical does have some cushioning on the base where my feet go, so for a while I thought that could be the cause. Once I am off, my foot will stop hurting after 5 minutes. I have loosened my shoes, I have re-laced them so that I have more toe room, but I still feel the pain along the outside of my foot. What can be causing this?


Hi karen,

There are a few different conditions that could cause you pain on the outside of your foot while you are on the elliptical.

The good news, for now, is that the pain resolves itself after five minutes. I cannot guarantee that will continue. If you keep doing what you are doing you may find that the residual pain becomes more continuous regardless if you are on the elliptical or not.

Three conditions come to mind. The first is an irritation of the base of the fifth metatarsal bone. This would represent the bony protrusion that you may feel on the outside of your foot. It is located midway between the back of your heel and the base of your fifth toe. If you have a tendency to supinate this would put more pressure on the base of the metatarsal.

A second possibility is aggravation of the peroneus longus tendon as it passes through that area of the foot. Once again,
excess supination could aggravate the tendon at the junction where it comes down the outside of your foot, then abruptly turns under the foot, just behind the fifth metatarsal base and then travels to the first metatarsal bone.

Lastly, and probably most unlikely, would be aggravation of the cuboid bone which is the bone just behind the fifth metatarsal. In excess supination, this bone has a tendency to sublux, meaning to be pushed slightly upwards. The thing about this is that if it were the cuboid bone thats causing your pain, I would think the pain would continue beyond your exercise period, simply because the bone rarely just pops back into place (although it is possible).

So as you can see, to get an accurate diagnosis you would have to visit a foot specialist, but I would suggest before you do that, you should try some things on your own. I say this because whatever pain you are experiencing, it disappears quickly after you finish exercising.

May sure your shoes are wide enough, just because it is fine on one foot does not mean it is wide enough on the affected foot.

You could also add a cushioned innersole to the athletic shoe in an effort to reduce the pressure on the outside of the foot.

There are also wedges that you can add to certain parts of your shoe that will force your foot out of excessive supination.

Lastly, sometimes a very stiff soled athletic shoe will also reduce the pressure on the outside of the foot.

If you cannot get this situation under control, I would then recommend seeing a foot specialist, simply because you do not want this pain to become chronic.

Marc Mitnick DPM

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