The feet are flexible structures of bones, muscles, and soft tissues that allow us to stand upright and perform activities such as walking, running, and jumping. The alignment of our feet directly affects that of our knees, hips, and back. If the feet are not properly aligned, so are the rest of the body parts. When it comes to running, studies highlight the risk factors associated with running injuries. One of these is footwear.
Foot and Running
The foot is composed of 26 bones, 33 joints, 112 ligaments, and a network of tendons, nerves and blood vessels all work together to establish the graceful synergy involved in running. Running is the most visible expression of the continued interest in regular physical activities.
Most runners strike the ground first with the outside of their heels. As the foot comes down, it rolls slightly to meet the floor. It is a normal mechanism that protects the feet and legs by distributing the forces exerted by impact with the ground. Flatter feet with low arches tend to roll more.
Running injuries are an unfortunate, but all too common, occurrence. It can affect both experienced runners who push themselves hard, and beginners whose muscles are not used to running. Foot pain can stop runners in their tracks, especially if there are stress fractures, tendonitis, and soreness that aren’t normal.
Training surface, lack of flexibility and strength, stage of growth and development, poor footwear and abnormal biomechanical features have all been implicated in the development of running injuries.
Barefoot Running: Good or Bad?
Scientific research has yet to reach a clear consensus on the benefits of barefoot running. It has been a controversial topic and many say it might not be suitable for all runners.
Running on barefoot in the cold is not advisable. Your feet get numb from the cold. When your feet have lost sensation, you won’t be able to notice damage that you may be causing to your feet until it’s too late. Therefore, footwear can offer protection in these circumstances.
The Right Footwear
Know your sport shoes. If your sport is running, choose footwear specifically designed for running. No data exist to say which type of shoe is better, but if you choose a cushioned shoe, look for overall shock absorption for the foot and good heel control. Although not a cure-all, these qualities in a running shoe help prevent shin splints, tendinitis, heel pain, stress fractures and other overuse syndromes. Running shoes are designed to provide maximum overall absorption for the foot.
If you haven’t been experiencing injuries while running, don’t quit with your shoes just yet. But if you are on your quest of new shoes, here are some tips to help you choose the right footwear:
- Get your feet assessed to see if you have normal, flat or high arches
- Allow a space of 1cm at the front and top of the shoe
- Heel should not rub the Achilles
- If the shoes are not comfortable when you’re trying them, don’t buy them
- Use the same socks when you’re buying shoes and running with them on the first few times.
Once you’ve already chose your shoes, enjoy running! Remember that they’re not supposed to cause you pain. They’re supposed to make you comfortable and protect your feet from injuries.
If you feel any pain when running, stop. Consider seeing a Perth Physiotherapist for help. Call i Physio Perth at (08) 9444 8729 today!