Running with Accessory Navicular Syndrome

In early summer of 2018, I was sitting with me legs out, rubbing my feet and ankles. While doing so, I noticed there was a hard bump (like from a bone) on the inside of my left foot above the arch. Upon Googling , I learned it is called an accessory navicular. It most commonly forms in youth, when bones are growing. I had never before noticed it, so I have no idea if I’ve had it for ages, or if it happened in adulthood.

The discovery explained some foot pain and the trouble I was having finding a shoe that provided the support and cushion necessary for long runs. Some can go their whole lives with an accessory navicular and it doesn’t bother them. If it does bother you, it’s called Accessory Navicular Syndrome (ANS).

Since the beginning of my running days, the muscle on the inside of my foot/ankle gets sore easily. The accessory navicular is part of the posterior tibial tendon-that exact area that would get easily aggravated. It also gives you flat arches, which tells why I couldn’t seem to find shoes that had the arch support I needed. I tried a variety of shoes, but none seemed to make the cut. I thought stability shoes were the answer, but me feet don’t dramatically overpronate so they didn’t solve the problem (I still wear some stability shoes, along with neutral shoes).

Last year I found a site that talked about ANS, saying that Foot Chair Insoles are best option. I put them in almost all my running shoes. Despite being a bit stiff, they work great. When my husband saw them he said it was the most intense arch support insole he’d seen! I would still like to find a shoe that can last through a marathon without having to use the Foot Chair (here’s what I found to be the best running shoes for flat feet), but for now I’m grateful I at least have the insole.

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Another way to ease arch soreness is to will roll your foot on a tennis ball or trigger point ball. Most runners with normal feet do this as well. If you’ve never tried it you really should!

It was nice to discover the reason for the easily irritated tendon on my foot, and why my arches would get sore. I know now what the problem is, and how to deal with it. Since using the proper insole and compression gear, I have able to run many 20+ mile runs, including marathons. The good news is that after a marathon I really don’t notice pain in my foot, I’m almost always more sore in my legs themselves.

When I wear casual shoes, or running shoes that don’t have the foot chair insole, I will wear arch supports. These have helped a lot, especially since we’ve lived in cities where we do a lot of walking. In warm weather and around the house I wear recovery sandals. Oofoos is a popular brand, I also use the Hoka One One recovery sandals. A lot of running shoes offer their own version, but those are the only two brands that I have worn. The Oofoos are much softer than the Hoka’s, but some days I prefer that stiffness of Hoka.

Wearing Oofoos, they also have flip flops

For some, surgery may be the best option if accessory navicular pain is severe and can’t seem to be relieved. They would remove that small bone (which isn’t needed at all) and reshape the posterior tibial tendon. Of course I’m hoping I will never need that surgery. For now, the insoles, compression ankle sleeves, and ice seem to do the trick.

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If you have Accessory Navicular Syndrome, you certainly don’t need to think that running is out of the question. Even running a marathon isn’t out of the question! You just need to be mindful to take the right precautions ahead of time. Here are some other massage tools that could help with various foot and leg pain/soreness.

~~Just a random thing I’m adding to this post-Last night Shalane Flanagan posted on her Instagram about the two surgeries she’s had. Turns out she had ANS and surgery to have the accessory bone removed. This only occurs in 4-14% of the population, so I find it interesting that she happened to have it as well.

Have you ever heard of ANS? Do you have it? What shoes/shoe products have helped?

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