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Each day millions of Americans run for fun, sport, and fitness. While running is a great form of physical activity, it can be hard on the lower extremities, especially the feet. Healthy feet are a runner’s best friend and understanding a running injury is a key to effective treatment.
The impact forces during running can be 2-3 times one’s body weight, making the feet particularly vulnerable to injury.
Our physical therapists provide an examination of a runner’s feet and an analysis of individual running mechanics to determine the cause of pain. Once a cause is determined, our physical therapists design an individualized treatment plan to address the cause of the problem. This treatment plan may include exercises for flexibility, stability, balance, strength, and joint range of motion.
Often, improper footwear can contribute to the problem. In these cases, recommendation on specific types of shoes based on the individual needs of a runner may be required. For example, runners with stiff feet and high arches may need more cushion in their shoes, while those with very flexible feet and low arches usually need a stiffer shoe with more support and control. For individuals with more complex problems, Westwood Physical Therapy can provide over-the-counter orthotics.
Here are some tips for all runners to help prevent injuries:
- Start slowly and build up slowly – both distance and speed.
- Address pain and discomfort as soon as it appears – with ice, rest, or by modifying your training program. Ignoring symptoms is a sure way to develop a chronic problem.
- Choose your running surface carefully. Hard surfaces, uneven terrain, and too many hills can lead to problems. Again, build up to them slowly if these surfaces are part of your goal.
- Consider other types of endurance exercises to give your feet a rest and to provide a better balance to your fitness routine.
- Keep an eye on skin issues, such as redness or blisters.
- Seek evaluation and treatment from a physical therapist to get back on the right track. Your feet will thank you!
Westwood Physical Therapy offers over-the-counter orthotics called “Superfeet”.