Running can be great exercise. It's good for your heart and for your mind. However, it can also be hard on your body at times. Sometimes, you may come back from a run with some soreness. When the soreness is in the top of your foot or feet, what could be causing it? Here are a few of the top possibilities.

Extensor Tendinitis

There are several tendons that run along the top of your foot. They are known as your extensor tendons, and they play a role in allowing you to extend your toes. If these tendons become overworked, they can become inflamed and painful—a condition known as tendinitis. With this injury, the soreness is usually spread over the top of your foot, and the area also feels really tight.

Extensor tendinitis can be an overuse injury in runners. You may have developed it from ramping up your training too quickly. It's quite common in runners who go from running on flat terrain to hills, since the hills require more substantial extension of your forefoot. Sometimes extensor tendinitis is also caused or made worse by lacing your shoes too tightly.

If you back off your training for a couple of weeks, ice your foot, and loosen your laces a bit, you'll often find the tendinitis clears up within a few weeks. If this does not work, you should see a podiatrist. They may recommend changing to different shoes, doing some exercises to increase flexibility in your foot, or taking anti-inflammatory medications for a time. 

Stress Fractures

The other possibility is that you have a stress fracture in the top of your foot. A stress fracture is small fracture that develops due to persistent, consistent pounding. They are common in high-mileage runners who do a lot of their work on concrete, asphalt, and other hard surfaces. The pain is usually worst at one particular spot, and it will really hurt if you press on that spot.

If you suspect you may have a stress fracture, you need to see an orthopedist for a diagnosis. They may give you a boot to wear for protection for a few weeks. You will need to take some time off from running and then slowly work your way back into it. Wearing shoes with more cushioning and running on trails, not roads, can help prevent future stress fractures.

If the top of your foot hurts after running, don't ignore the pain. Contact an orthopedist to help diagnose your foot pain.