With the annual New York City Marathon just days away, the topic naturally turns to the method, means and manor with which runners from every corner of the globe will grapple with the daunting 26.2 miles run in the shadows of Manhattan’s sky scrapers. Being such a storied and anticipated event, the NYC Marathon is ripe with tall tales and anecdotes as to how seemingly ordinary people can endure such a massive physical feat. The running community is constantly ablaze with discussions as to the best and most effective way to train and stay healthy during long distance training.
Among these training strategies is one that has picked up a surprising amount of momentum in recent years; barefoot running. Proponents of the strategy feel that barefoot running is the healthier alternative to running with normal shoes because it lessens the frequency of musculoskeletal injuries in the foot. The physiological reasons are often equated to a biological or evolutionary construction of the foot that makes it more conducive for running without obstruction.
Data on musculoskeletal injury frequency comparing those running barefoot and those running in shoes is somewhat murky however, because barefoot runners tend to run fewer miles on average than those with shoes. What has become clear is that barefoot runners are much more likely to sustain non-musculoskeletal injuries such as cuts, blisters stubbed toes and bruises. Many podiatrists have determined that the envisioned benefits of running barefoot are far outweighed by the likely injuries from subjecting your unprotected feet to broken glass, rocks and debris on the pavement.
While injuries suffered barefoot tend to be more superficial, the heightened frequency of the injuries and the impact they have on training schedules and effectiveness seems to supersede anything to be gained from its intended benefits.
If you do suffer from musculoskeletal pain, it can be the result of a foot alignment issue. Asking a podiatrist to evaluate the alignment and mechanics of your feet and legs will help narrow the cause of the problem and determine whether or not you will benefit from a custom orthotic insert. It is also important to note that to avoid injury, long distance goals should be met through gradual increases over time accompanied by a thorough stretching routine before and after each workout.
During the summer months, outdoor athletic and recreational programs are in full swing. And whether you’re an amateur or a pro, young or old, care must be taken to avoid common foot injuries associated with many warm weather sports. For example:
Tennis is particularly stressful on your feet due to the quick starts and stops and all the lateral/side to side movements as you chase the ball around the court. Common foot problems from playing tennis include ankle sprains, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and turf toe.
Foot Care Tips: Select a stable tennis shoe that is not too rigid, and that provides flexibility for a range of motion. It also should provide toe support and cushioning in the toe box. Custom orthotics are recommended to provide arch and joint support, and if you have weak ankles or a history of sprains, you may be well advised to wear a simple ankle brace inside your shoe.
Playing golf puts you more at risk for overuse injuries than those caused by trauma, mostly due to weight balance shifts and the biomechanics of swinging a golf club, and somewhat due to excessive walking as you traverse the fairway.
The body acts like a whip to power you through the golf swing, initiated by the feet pushing against the ground. Each foot plays a different role in the swing, and as your body weight shifts between the front and back feet they also roll between the inside and outside. Injuries can occur when the golfer looses his or her footing or balance during the swing, while performing the swing with the improper swing mechanics, and when hitting a ball off an uneven surface.
Most common are heel pain due to excessive pronation and tendinitis resulting from inflammation of the tendon that runs along the arch as pressure is exerted there during the golf swing, as well as blisters and ankle sprains.
Foot Care Tips: In addition to wearing properly fitted golf shoes, adding an orthotic insert would help stabilize your feet to provide a better point of contact with the ground and more evenly distribute your body weight, as well as improve the alignment of your body posture during your swing. By improving your overall alignment you can prevent painful knees, legs and lower back pain that could impede your concentration and ultimately impact your golf score.
Your lower extremities — and especially your feet– take a pounding from running on hard surfaces.
Your feet provide two vital functions associated with running — pushing off and landing. The 26 bones, 33 joints, 112 ligaments and network of tendons, nerves and vessels all work together to support these functions, both of which are the root of most running injuries.
Plantar fasciitis, a soft-tissue disorder common among athletes, is so prevalent among runners that it is dubbed “Runners Heel.” Often it is caused by running too far or too hard or too fast, poor foot structure or inappropriate or worn-out running shoes that stresses the connective tissue between the heel and the base of the toes. Plantar fasciitis causes painful inflammation on the bottom of the heel that worsens and becomes more difficult to treat the longer it presents. The pain is most prevalent with initial weight bearing in the morning and after long periods of rest.
Achilles tendonitis is a pain at the back of the lower leg just above the heel where the Achilles Tendon connects the calf to the heel. Runners who suffer may complain of a swelling close to the base of the heel.
The culprits may be tight calves, as well as inappropriate/non-supportive footwear or intense or excessive training.
Foot Care Tips: Pre-run stretching and massaging the feet and calves, orthotics for arch support and foot alignment cannot be over stressed. Changing sneakers in between runs also is advised. If pain persists, make an appointment with Dr. Haber to discuss other treatment options including FDA-approved Shockwave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis.
Foot pain usually puts the brakes on any kind of athletic pursuit. Remember to condition yourself properly, select footwear geared to the activity and follow proper foot hygiene. You should build in sufficient time to warm up and stretch before and after your workout to maximize flexibility, relieve foot pain, prevent injury and improve performance.
If you experience enduring pain or an injury, contact our office to check out the problem.