Runners can be some of the most satisfying patients to work with, as they are usually highly motivated and well educated about the sport. At the same time, the high activity demands and multiple variables involved with each runner can make optimizing performance and minimizing pain an exciting challenge for physicians. Running can place 2x-5x the normal amount of force on your feet, which adds up quickly based the amount of mileage you run each week. This repetitive increase in pressure can lead to many overuse injuries of the musculoskeletal system, as well as the skin.
There are many variable involved with running, including types of running terrain, shoe options, and training regimens. Running style (heel vs. midfoot strike) and foot type are additional variables that may lead to a successful or painful training program. Many of these variables are chosen based on individual preference or habit, and as long as you do not have symptoms, other than standard muscle soreness, there is no need to change your routine. However, if you are experiencing reproducible pain during your run, it is best to get an evaluation.
Common Foot and Ankle Conditions in Runners:
- Achilles Tendon Injury
- Ankle Sprains
- Athlete's Foot
- Blisters or Calluses
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Shin Splints
- Stress Fractures
- Toenail Injuries
Common Running Mistakes That Lead To Pain:
- Improper shoe selection for foot type or running terrain
- Wearing a "motion-control" shoe with a high arch foot, or uneven running terrain, can lead to ankle injuries and tendinitis
- Increasing speed or distance too quickly
- This can lead to stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, or tendinitis
- Infrequent shoe replacement
- The shock absorbing capabilities of most shoes is lost after 400-500 miles
- Lack of Flexibility
- Although pre-run stretching is often unnecessary, post-run stretching of the calf muscles will help prevent equinus contracture of the Achilles tendon. Equinus contracture can lead to many running injuries, including stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and tendinitis.
General Running Recommendations:
- Replace shoes every 500 miles
- Custom orthotics or pre-fabricated arch supports are only needed if there is a painful condition that requires treatment.
- Stretch your calf muscles for a couple minutes after running. CLICK HERE for proper instructions.
- If increasing your distance or speed, follow one of the many recommended training programs available online.
- "Motion-Control" shoes are not necessary, unless told otherwise by a coach, trainer, or physician. Don't be talked into buying these shoes, which are generally more expensive, because it has this "additional support," as it may become a source of pain. A "neutral" running shoe works just fine for the majority of runners.
- Utilize resources at specialty running stores. These stores train their employees to understand which type of shoe works best based on the multiple variables involved with your running demands. The prices may be a little higher than discount stores, but it is cheaper to buy one pair of correct shoes, than two pair of improper shoes that may lead to a doctor visit. They also have clubs, and events that can help improve your performance and enjoyment.
- If you have a new pain, that does not seem like muscle soreness, or pain that lasts more than 3-4 days, CALL 512-593-2949 or CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment with our foot and ankle specialist.
- Check out TexasRunningPost.com for information on local area races and training groups. Dr. John Tuggle, owner and chiropractor at TheTriDoc in Cedar Park, manages a fantastic website dedicated to keeping runners in the Austin area up to date with the latest information. In addition to information regarding local races and events, the website provides fantastic educational resources to ensure that you are able to safely and enjoyably continue your running journey!