How to Keep Feet from Burning While Running

A burning sensation on the bottom of the feet is a common annoyance among runners, especially those running long distances. Some runners experience burning on the balls of their feet, between their toes, or other areas of their feet.

Possible Causes of Burning Feet While Running

Wrong Shoes: Wrong footwear is one of the most common causes of burning feet. If your shoes are too small, they could constrict your feet, and the rubbing could lead to a burning sensation.

Wrong Socks: Cotton socks don't wick away sweat, and the moisture makes them more prone to blisters and hot spots from friction.

Athlete's Foot: Athlete's foot is a fungal infection that thrives in damp, sweaty places — like between your toes. One of the symptoms is a burning sensation on the affected areas. Other symptoms of athlete's foot include itching, stinging and burning on the soles of your feet; itchy blisters; cracking and peeling skin on your feet; and extremely dry skin on the bottoms or sides of your feet.

Peripheral Neuropathy: Peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage to the foot, is one of the more serious causes of burning feet while running. Other symptoms include numbness, tickling, tingling, and a prickly feeling in the feet. One of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes.

Other serious, but less common, causes for burning feet while running include hypothyroidism, nutrient deficiencies, kidney or liver damage, nerve diseases, and some blood disorders.

If you’ve tried the solutions below and are still experiencing burning feet, consult a health care professional.

What to Do About Burning Feet

  • Get properly fitted for running shoes. Go to a specialty running store and have a running shoe expert fit you for the right running shoes. Make sure you get at least a half- to full-size larger than your street-size shoes, because feet swell when you're running, and shoes that are too tight will rub your skin and cause burning. Replace your running shoes every 300-400 miles so you're not wearing unsupportive or worn-out shoes.
  • Use an anti-chafing lubricant such as BodyGlide on the bottom of your feet and in between your toes.
  • Wear synthetic running socks (not 100% cotton) that wick moisture away from your feet when they sweat during running. Replace your socks often so you aren't wearing worn socks. It's worth spending some extra money on a good pair of running socks that will keep your feet dry and comfortable. (Get recommendations for summer running socks and winter running socks.) Once you find a brand/type that you really like, invest in several pairs so you can wear them for all your runs. Even just one run in a poorly-fitting or 100% cotton socks can lead to blisters and other lasting issues.
  • Use foot powder to help keep your feet dry during running.
  • If there's one area of your foot, such as the ball of your feet, that's particularly sensitive to the burning feeling, you can try covering this "hot spot" with athletic tape or moleskin. Make sure the tape or moleskin is flat and not wrinkled — bunching can lead to blisters and even more discomfort.
  • If you have other symptoms (in addition to the burning sensation) of athlete's foot, use a powder, spray or cream remedy. If that doesn't clear it up, consult your health care provider.
  • Lace your running shoes so they'll support your feet, but don't constrict your circulation. You should be able to slide one finger under the knot. If you can't, your shoes are tied too tightly, so loosen the laces in order to give you more room. If your feet start burning after a few miles into your run, loosen the laces slightly and see if that makes a difference.

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