Sports Podiatry: Why Do You Run?

Did you know that over 50% of runners develop a running-related injury every year! This is a staggering statistic when you stop and think how many people you see out running. It has become one of the most popular forms of exercise today and is increasingly on the rise. The simplicity and cost effectiveness of jogging has lead to a surge in people of all shapes and sizes, regardless of experience, pounding the pavement.

So if the injury rate is so high why do people run? I believe it is partially due to the ease and flexibility of running. You can simply pull on a pair of shoes after work, which costs a fraction of a bike or gym membership, and head out and run. This may be one reason but more importantly I believe there is this long-held belief that jogging is the best form of exercise to lose weight. Now seriously, if you have a 1 in 2 chance of getting injured from running the odds suggest you are likely to be spending more time on the physio and podiatry table than exercising; notwithstanding the extra weight the person may be carrying to encourage this foray into exercise. If each foot strike constitutes 3 times our body weight being absorbed through the lower leg, a 100 kg runner has over 300 kg passing through their foot and knee!

The majority of people believe the ability to run is innate. To some degree this is true but the ability to run well is not. If I spend a morning down at my local running track, the Maribyrnong River in Melbourne, I will see hundreds of different jogging styles run past. So who teaches these people how to run? The answer is normally no one. Poor running technique and bio mechanics play a huge role in the development and risk of jogging injuries and very few runners spend the time getting themselves ‘run fit’ before they head out to run. But, like many things in life we acquire our abilities through mimicking other people and running is no different. Certainly shoes, running surfaces and our individual anatomical variations have an influence in the development of our running technique but I believe the way to run well needs to be learned properly.

The way the hip, knee, ankle and foot joints function throughout the running gait cycle is fundamental to running well. Specific muscle weakness/tightness, joint misalignment and range of motion issues are largely responsible for poor jogging mechanics. Gait re-training has been developed as one of the new ways to treat complex jogging injuries but can also be used as a preventative measure. Sport podiatrists can incorporate a comprehensive jogging gait analysis with gait re-training programs and orthotic therapy to directly deal with bio mechanical problems that cause running injuries.

Before you head out for you next run think about shifting your focus towards getting yourself fit TO run as well as running TO get fit.

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