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How to protect your foot and ankle when running

 

Running, we have all attempted it at some point, but do we all give it much thought? We throw on the only pair of trainers we own and hit the road, and that’s it right? For some of us yes, for others we end up with a sprained ankle, heel pain or knee injuries. With marathon season coming up it is a good time to explore some of the considerations we can to take to protect ourselves from these common running injuries.

 

Studies suggest that anywhere between 1 in 5 and 4 in 5 runners will experience an injury every year. Is it the running shoe, the technique or the lack of preparation and training that is causing this high incidence of injuries?  This is where the running literature becomes conflicted. In my experience as a podiatrist it is a combination of all the above that can increase your likelihood of injury.

 

One of the first considerations to take is why are you running? Are you training for a race or event, in which case what kind of event? If you are planning on training for a marathon, these are typically done on roads; hard concrete and tarmac, so the last thing you would want is a hard soled trail shoe. So you firstly need to consider the surface you are training on and then identify an appropriate trainer that will either reduce the impact going through your feet on hard surfaces or provide the support and stability on softer uneven surfaces.

 

Preparation and training are another consideration commonly ignored; this could be due to time constraints or just because we can’t remember the warm-up from high school PE class. The aim of warming up before running is to gradually increase your heart rate and circulation. This increases blood flow to your muscles and loosens up your joints, while stretching prepares your muscles for the movements you are about to carry out. More recent studies have shown that dynamic stretching such as squats and lunges before your run are more effective in injury prevention than performing static stretches. This is because dynamic stretches utilise groups of muscles and more importantly the big muscle groups such as your gluteals, quadriceps and hamstrings. Research has shown that a dynamic warm up increases both your hamstring flexibility and quadriceps strength.

 

Strength training and running technique are another factor to consider and this is where it gets complicated. Although there are an abundance of websites and YouTube videos to show you different running techniques and leg exercises to perform, what they lack is the individualisation of these factors. Identifying your specific muscle imbalance or running compensation is the best way to design your personal training program that will reduce your risk of injury. At Foot Stop Gait Analysis and Injury Clinic we have a team of dedicated experts that can not only identify your risk of injury but will provide a personalised rehabilitation program that will ensure you are performing the right exercises correctly; whether to reduce your risk of injury or to increase your performance. Give us a call today on 01702 480640 to find out more information.

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