Gravity only works one way. To lift something up, you have to have a force actively acting against it. Machines have cables with motors. Feet have muscles and tendons. The structures that straighten or lift your toes and flex your feet are called your extensor tendons. As many active people are aware, however, those connective tissues are not injury proof. Top of the foot pain can stop many athletes in their tracks if not properly cared for. Fortunately, this condition—extensor tendonitis—is easy to treat.
Burning Top of the Foot Pain
Extensor tendonitis, also called extensor tendinopathy, is a painful overuse injury that makes it difficult for you to lift or flex your foot. Many runners are unfortunately familiar with this condition. The tendons that pull your toes and whole foot up and backwards end up inflamed and irritated. As a result, the top of your foot aches and burns whenever you try to flex your toes or lift your foot when you run. Sometimes the top of the foot swells as well. Usually the discomfort develops slowly and gets worse the longer you have it.
Irritating the Flexors
Generally you develop this injury when the tendons on the top of your foot are overworked or overstressed. Sometimes this means you are pushing your feet harder in your running or other sports than they are conditioned to handle. A sudden change in training, like running more hills or switching to a treadmill, can aggravate these tendons. Lacing your shoes incorrectly or wearing poorly-fitted footwear can lead to the problem as well. Shoes that are laced too tight or don’t fit can pinch the tendons and nerves on the top of the foot, leading to irritation and swelling in the connective tissues.