Burning feet when running

The sensation of burning feet when running is a common symptom. You can be an ameuture or elite runner, at some point in your running life your feet can burn. More specifically the ball of the foot. Often it will come on halfway through or towards the end of your run. Then once you get home and take your shoes off, it goes away as quickly as it started.

Anatomy of the ball of the foot

The ball of the foot has a technical name called to plantar metatarsal area or PMA. You have all the bones the foot meeting the toes along with:

  • Nerves
  • Blood vessels
  • Ligaments
  • Muscles
  • Tendons
  • Fat Tissue
  • Skin

There is a lot of stuff packed into a pretty small area. Basically, when the ball of the foot is burning when you are running, this everything above is getting squashed somehow.


What causes burning feet when running?

There 3 common causes:

  1. The shoes
  2. Your foot type/shape and biomechanics
  3. Your running technique

If the shoes are tight across the ball of your foot, there will be compression of some or all of the things mentioned above.

If you have a high arched foot you, might feel a burning sensation under the big toe joint and little toe joint’s specifically. This is because this is where all the pressure is located. If you have a “flatter” shaped foot, you might notice the burning more central to the ball of the foot.

The way you run can be a big contributor and often can’t be changed. A common run pattern of running to lead to burning under the foot is called an abductory twist. This is where the ball of the twists (like putting out a cigarette) just before the foot comes off the ground. This generates a lot of friction and heat under the ball of the foot leading to a burning feeling. Take a look at the sole of your running shoes. If there is a lot of tread wear under the sole, you might be running with an abductory twist.

How to stop it happening

Get your feet and run technique assessed is the first step. It might be as simple as changing your shoe. Other management options can be offloading the area with padding, changing your socks, foot orthoses, exercise programs and working on your running technique.


Follow this link to learn about other common running injuries


Luke Bertram

Sports Podiatrist
(BHlthSc. Podiatry) M. A. Pod. Asc



It appears you're using an old version of Internet Explorer which is no longer supported, for safer and optimum browsing experience please upgrade your browser.