I learned a lot from Repsher and Associates Physical Therapist Matthew Alheim at the Fleet Feet Albany ‘Common Overuse Injuries in Runners’ presentation on January 26, 2010.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The Plantar Fascia is a thick band of connective tissue on the sole of the foot. Plantar Fasciitis is the most common foot condition treated by healthcare providers. Weakness in calf muscles, Achilles tendon and a limited ability to move your big toe could put you at risk for Plantar Fasciitis. Runners with Plantar Fasciitis may complain of pain in the heel that is worse in the morning, especially the first few steps of the day. To help prevent Plantar Fasciitis, do not tuck the sheets in at the bottom of your bed. When your sheets are tucked in, your feet naturally move into the ‘pointed toe’ position, which does not allow the Plantar Fascia to stretch.
What is Achilles Tendonitis?
The Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles come together and form the Achilles tendon, which attaches to the Calcaneus, AKA the heel bone. There are over 230,000 Achilles tendon injuries per year in the United States. Weakness in calf muscles, pronation and high heeled shoes can cause Achilles tendonitis. Runners with Achilles tendonitis may feel pain over the back of the heel, or pain climbing stairs when pushing off of the foot.
What Are Shin Splints?
Shin splints refer to any pain in the leg between the knee and the ankle. Anterior shin splints affect the front of the leg on the outside of the tibia (tibialis anterior), and are seen most often in beginner runners. Posterior shin splints are seen on the inside border of the tibia (tibialis posterior), and affect more experienced runners.
How Can I Prevent Running Injuries? How Can I Find Out if I Pronate or Supinate?
Wearing the correct shoe when running and strengthening the affected muscles of the leg could help prevent Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis and Shin Splints.
I recommend purchasing shoes at Fleet Feet. The staff will ask you to walk and run on their treadmill and take video of your running stride to analyze which type of shoe you need.
This video shows a non-weight bearing Rectus Femoris stretch
If you like standing when performing the Rectus Femoris stretch, be sure to get your leg BEHIND your hip and stretch your foot towards the other side of the body, instead of straight back.
Here is a video of a Gastrocnemius stretch
To stretch the Soleus, perform the same movement, but bend at the knee slightly.
To stretch the hamstrings, stand with one leg placed on a hip-high flat surface. Lean over the leg and feel the hamstrings stretch. Lean over the leg again, and turn 45 degrees to the left, then 45 degree to the right to stretch all the hamstring muscles.
To strengthen running muscles in your calves and feet, have fun trying the following exercises:
Place your bare foot on a towel on the ground, grab the towel with your toes and scrunch your toes to pull the towel an inch or two towards your body. Repeat, and practice with both feet.
With a bare foot, tap your big toe on the ground while keeping the rest of your toes motionless. Switch the exercise, keeping your big toe motionless while tapping your other toes on the ground. Practice with both feet.
While sitting, use a tennis ball to massage the underside of your foot. An alternate exercise is to roll a frozen water bottle back and forth on the ground with your bare foot while seated. The water bottle should be massaging the arch of your foot during this exercise.
Practice balancing on one leg. Repeat with the other leg. A Bosu ball or foam pad may increase the effectiveness of this exercise.
When Should I Replace my Running Shoes?
Divide 75,000 by your body weight in pounds to get the number of miles you can run in your shoes before replacing them. If you feel “heat” in the midsole of the shoe when you run, it may be time for new shoes. If you have a pronating or supinating gait, check to make sure the heel of your shoe is perpendicular when you place your shoe on a flat surface. If excessive wear on the inside or outside of your shoe causes the heel to tilt, it is time for new shoes!
Take care of your shoes by unlacing your shoes before you remove them. Forcing your shoes off while they are still laced will compromise the heel portion of the shoe.
To see the schedule for future classes at Fleet Feet, visit their website: http://www.fleetfeetalbany.com/
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