By Podiatrist Chris McCormick
As the weather rolls out of the winter doldrums and into the bright light of spring it’s the perfect time to dust off those running shoes and get moving! The days are getting longer and warmer and the running event calendar is building (it’s less than 3 months to the Melbourne Marathon!). As we increase our running distance and frequency in preparation for running season so too does the injury rate, especially to those beautiful, hard working pedals at the bottom of your leg (your feet!). The most common running related injuries (and how to successfully manage them) of the foot are:
Plantar fasciitis: This is the most common injury that occurs to the foot due to running. While it’s name suggests it’s an inflammatory condition this is misleading as this type of heel pain is due to many factors including nerve compression, fascial adaptation and loss of shock attenuation. People with this type of pain report morning stiffness out of bed, pain after rest and often report soreness while running. Thankfully, the PHG Podiatry team is well equipped to get your back on your feet! Treatment includes: strapping/orthotics, shockwave therapy (this has been shown to very effective in reducing pain quickly) footwear adjustments, dry needling, massage, foot mobilisation, running re-training and adjustments and strengthening of the foot/ankle through a tailored program.
Forefoot pain: Pain under the ball of the foot is commonly reported while running, especially under the 2nd + 3rd toe joints. People who are experiencing this pain often report a dull ache or shooting sensation under the ball of their foot. Most commonly this pain occurs due to an inefficient movement pattern of the feet, resulting in injury due to overload. Treatment is focused on restoring normal foot function through orthotics, strapping/padding, foot mobilisation, dry needling and foot/ankle strengthening.
Stress fractures: We most commonly see stress fractures when people ramp up their training too quickly. Our bodies are great at adapting to new stimulus but we need time to do this. People will described a dull ache like sensation through a bone that can sometimes ache in bed at night. Stress fractures feel worse when undergoing high loading activities such as running or jumping. A period of modified rest is often needed initially to allow the bone to heel. During the rest period, we aim to address all the risk factors that contributed to the problem through dry needling, strengthening of the foot/ankle, foot mobilisations and possibly orthotics.
Our feet are amazing things, they have 26 bones, 33 joints and 33 muscles/tendons per foot. The best way to avoid any foot injury is to slowly build yourself up with your running frequency/distance, giving your body and feet the time they need to adapt.