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Runners with good running economy use less energy and therefore less oxygen. Townsville Podiatrist and Running Coach Chris Weber shares some tips below on how to improve your running economy - however it is important to note that when attempting to modify your running technique there will be an initial increase in the amount of energy consumed (reduced running economy). Therefore, the more you practice the technique modification, the more efficient you will become. Reduce your ground contact time. This is the amount of time your foot is in contact with the ground. Some strategies to reduce ground contact time include: Taking quieter steps – a quiet foot strike typically spends less time in contact with the ground than a loud foot strike (and there’s much less stress through the lower limb too) Take quicker steps – the more steps you take per minute (cadence) the less time your foot spends in contact with the ground. As cadence increases, ground contact time usually decreasesRead More
Why do my shins hurt when I run?
This is a common complaint seen in my Townsville Podiatry clinic. Shin pain can be very frustrating, especially when you are just getting into an exercise regime. There are many causes of shin pain, but I think the most common cause is ‘too much too soon’. Patients will often get shin pain at the start of a footy season or 2 weeks into a 12 week boot-camp challenge. There are many causes of shin pain which can include: Over-pronated, collapsing arches High arch, rigid foot-type (poor at shock absorption) Weak/tight proximal muscles around hips/glut/core. Running is solely a single-leg activity. You need good stability around your hips/gluts to keep your hips level and control the force that your leg internally rotates on ground contact. Certain running gaits may increase your risk of developing shin pain – for example heel striking may increase the load on your anterior shin muscles; narrow cross-over running gait changes the angle your foot/leg strikes the ground which in turn increases the torque on your tibia and load on your shin muscles Crappy, worn out shoes Tight calf muscles, restricted ankle joint Sudden increase in training intensity and frequency Surface/ terrain It is important to have your shin pain correctly diagnosed and treated to allow you to return to exercise and avoid needing many weeks of complete rest. Please read our Shin Pain article for more detailed information.Read More
How you STAND - is how you WALK - is how you RUN!
I often get asked the following questions in my Townsville Podiatry clinic: How do I run faster? Should I be running on my forefoot or my heels? What is the best running shoe for me? How do I get rid of my stupid shin splints?? (insert frustrated emoji here) These are all good questions. Certainly - improving your running technique, wearing the most suitable running shoes, training appropriately and getting the right recovery time is integral to improving your performance. But what is also extremely important to consider is what we do for the other 23 hours a day when we are not running. This has a massive impact on our running gait and efficiency (for example our work footwear, occupation and our sitting, standing and walking posture). How about we consider these questions as well: 1. What shoes am I shoving my feet in all day at work? Are they switching off my instrinsic foot muscles and making my feet lazy? Are my work shoes pushing my big toe towards my 2nd toe and rendering it a useless arch support? Hang on, are my fancy high heels which shorten my calf muscles all day – are they helping my running gait?!? (I’m talking to the blokes here too – check out the heel height on your business shoes!) 2. How much do I sit down during the day & evening? We humans are supposed to be out in the bush hunting, tall & upright. Instead we sit at computers all day and slump forwards scrolling through Facebook. Even with the best sitting posture, too much sitting equals tight hip flexors and tight glutes. How can we then expect to run tall? 3. Hmmm… do I stand with my feet straight… or do I resemble Donald Duck? Lots of people stand and walk with their feet pointing outwards – instead of forwards. This again switches our glutes off, loads the lower back more and uses our stability muscles for going forwards instead of our prime movers. Check out my video below which explains this a bit better!Read More
What causes Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis)???
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. Heel pain is most common in the 40 – 60 year age group. It is so prevalent that ~80% of adults will suffer a bout of heel pain over the course of their adult life-time. The plantar fascia is a strong structure in the arch of the foot, kind of like a bow-string. When the plantar fascia becomes injured, pain is felt in the front of the heel and sometimes in the arch of the foot. It is much worse first thing in the morning and after rest periods, causing you to hobble like old Mother Hubbard. Unfortunately this hobbling can then cause pain and tightness in other parts of your body! So what actually CAUSES heel pain?? To put it simply, plantar fasciitis occurs when the continual daily mechanical load on the plantar fascia (main supporting structure of the arch) is greater then what the body can continue to repair. Every time you rest or sleep, your body goes into repair mode to heal any little niggly stuff that has happened throughout the day. In an optimally functioning body, tissue load would equal tissue repair. When plantar fasciitis occurs it is because tissue load is much greater than tissue repair. This excessive load causes a weakening and degeneration of the plantar fascia, and in some cases tears may be present. The condition is now more correctly termed plantar fasciosis (degeneration) instead of plantar fasciitis (inflammation). The following factors may contribute to increase mechanical load of the plantar fascia: Occupations which require lots of walking or standing on hard surfaces. Foot Posture – having collapsed arches or high arch, rigid feet cause increase load on the plantar fascia. Over-training or sudden increase in training. Being over-weight – even with good foot posture those extra kg’s dramatically increase the load on the plantar fascia. Certain types of training that place a lot of stress on the feet – long distance running, sprinting, ballet, basketball etc - may contribute to an earlier onset of plantar heel pain. Certain medical conditions may predispose people to developing heel pain such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Quite often however, the finger pointing can’t just go towards the over-training, the long hours or the hard surfaces at work. More often than not, our feet are just not capable of doing their job! They’ve become stiff, rigid and weak and therefore no longer act as efficient springs for our bodies. This is largely due to our modern footwear. Shoving your feet into pointy toe shoes all day switches off your intrinsic foot muscles which makes your feet lazy. As your big toe gets pushed towards your second toe – it can no longer support your arch. Having a heel raise in your shoe tightens up your calf muscles which in turn strains your arch more. Our toes are supposed to be able to spread, our heels should be on the ground. Over time our feet have become stiff, weakened, crappy structures – allowing heel pain to occur. To address the real cause of heel pain we need to wake these feet up again – unlock their true potential! At Foundation Podiatry we have designed the ACTIVE FOOT FORMULA to do just this. For more detailed information on heel pain click here. Don't walk like old Mother Hubbard any longer! Talk to us today!Read More
How to choose the correct training footwear
Shoes, shoes, shoes. They can be the cause of your injury, or help you avoid or overcome an injury. With so many different shoe types (and colours) on the market, how does one choose the correct footwear for their foot-type and activity? Firstly some pointers for correctly choosing footwear in general: The shoe should be flat – even a small heel raise can cause long term compensatory problems The shoe should bend at the toe (where your foot naturally bends) The shoe should have some flex and forgiveness in the middle – our foot is not supposed to be locked up in a coffin all day! The widest part of the shoe should be at your toes – your toes are supposed to wiggle and grip – not be squeezed together all day (sorry ladies and gents – pointy toes are a no no) Allow your thumb’s width gap at the end of the longest toe (which may be the 2nd toe) The shape of the shoe should match the foot (eg. curved last for a curved foot) The midsole of the shoe should be firm yet shock absorbing Next you need to choose the correct shoe for your foot-type. Just because Asics for example is a good brand of footwear, not all Asics will be suited to your foot-type. Neutral shoe – for a foot-type that is structurally correct (no excessive arch collapse). A neutral shoe provides cushioning but no extra support as a neutral foot-type does not need extra support. Anti-pronation shoe – for a foot-type that requires more support (due to excessive arch collapse). An anti-pronation shoe has a medial post (firmer grey rubber) on the inside of the shoe which makes this part of the shoe stronger. Anti-pronation shoes come in mild, moderate and severe anti-pronation control. Lastly, it’s really important to match your footwear to your activity. Playing touch football in a tennis shoe is likely end up in all sorts of mischief! Walking shoes Walking and running is a straight line motion sport (versus change of direction such as aerobics). Therefore a walking shoe should have good flexibility in the toe, however may not be as flexible in the toe as a running shoe. Midsole cushioning in the heel and forefoot is important for walking shoes, especially if you are walking on bitumen or concrete. A good walking shoe will have a slightly rounded sole or rocker bottom which helps to shift weight from heel strike into toe-off, reducing the forces on forefoot. Running shoes Running is also straight line motion, so having lots of flexibility in the toe is really important. Running shoes should also have good cushioning in the midsole, especially if you are road running. Over the years opinions on ‘the best’ running shoes have jumped about – from conventional running shoes, to minimalist running shoes, and more recently to maximalist, highly cushioned running shoes. Not one type of running shoe suits everybody. Take into consideration your body weight, running technique, running experience, terrain, mileage, foot-type and any injuries you may have. Cross training / Court sports Shoes Activities such as aerobics, netball and tennis involve predominantly lateral (side-to-side) movements. Shoes for these activities should provide good lateral support to reduce the risk of an injury ocuring, such as an ankle sprain. They often incorporate more leather in the upper compared to mesh which also provides more side to side stability. A cross training shoe must have some flexibility in the toe, but not as much as a running shoe would need. They have less flex grooves in the forefoot and more rubber in the outer-sole to contact the ground to provide grip. Some cross-trainers are now made with a 80% running base and 20% court base, which would be suitable for someone who wants to do maybe 2 aerobics classes, 1 run and 1 hit of tennis per week. Other cross-trainers are 80% court base and 20% running based for those wanting to do predominantly court activities. You do not necessarily need a different pair of shoes for every activity you participate in. However, if you are doing a certain activity (such as running) 3 times per week or more than you would benefit from wearing a sport-specific shoe. Sporting and running injuries are extremely common and often poor footwear is the culprit – are your training shoes up to scratch?Read More
My mum has bunions, does that mean I will also get them?
Bunions occur more commonly in females than males and sometimes do run in families. We are at the mercy of our genes, so the same forces that caused your mother or father’s bunions are possibly at work for you too. It is important to note however – the bunion itself is not inherited – but the foot structure that causes the bunion to develop may get passed down! There are many factors that cause bunions to develop: your foot posture, shape of metatarsal bones and intrinsic muscle strength. There are also external factors which may cause bunions to develop more rapidly such as high heel or pointy-toe footwear and certain occupations. Our Podiatrist’s at Foundation Podiatry are highly trained to assess your foot posture and recommend appropriate treatment to avoid or delay the development of bunions, ideally avoiding the need for surgery. So just because your mum has bunions… this does not necessarily mean that you will also develop bunions! Have a read of our Bunions Article for more detailed information.Read More
How often should I replace my runners?
Most runners wait far too long before replacing their runners and risk overuse injuries as a result. Generally running shoes should last between 600 and 1000 kilometres, although this depends on your body weight, how often and far you run, the terrain you run on and your running style. Heavy runners who pound the ground every day over long distances will wear out their footwear much quicker than a light jogger who runs once or twice a week. As you approach the “worn out” mileage mark, see how your shoes feel. If they leave your feet feeling fatigued, replace them. Don’t wait until the tread on your soles is worn completely flat, or you’re seeing the midsole showing through the bottom!! The most common injuries related to worn-out runners include shin pain, knee pain, plantar fasciitis (heel pain) and forefoot pain. Our Podiatrists at Foundation Podiatry Townsville use the Dead Shoe Test to see if your runners need replacing. If you can bend the forefoot of the shoe backwards (the opposite way to what your toes would flex) – then it is time to replace your runners! Also when pressing your thumb against the forefoot of the shoe there should be quite a bit of resistance against your thumb – if your thumb feels like it’s about to go through the midsole means the cushioning has ‘had it’. Remember – softness is NOT cushioning – firmness or resistance is cushioning! It’s also important to check that the wear pattern is even on each runner, and no excessive wear in any one area. For further info check out our blog: How to Choose the Correct Training Footwear. If you have concerns regarding your running technique, which runners you should be wearing or you have a lower limb injury…. then give our friendly team at Foundation Podiatry Townsville a call today on 4775 1760!Read More
Custom Foot Supports (Orthotics) VERSUS the Chemist jobs
I’ve been told I need Orthotics – will the ones from the chemist do the trick?? Generally, no. Off-the-shelf or non-customised orthotics from the chemist are made for a 'normal' foot type. People with a ‘normal’ foot type generally do not develop foot problems nor need to be worried about their long term foot health. If a Podiatrist has recommended custom orthotics for you – it is because you do not have normal (I prefer to say ideal) foot posture. You may have a very high arch, rigid foot-type which is poor at shock absorbing. Or you may have a broad flat foot (pancake foot) which acts like a floppy spring. Your feet may even differ from one foot to the other, which is often the case. WHAT DO ORTHOTICS ACTUALLY DO? Custom orthoses are designed to alter how your foot functions – whether it be changing alignment to stop your foot rolling in or out, altering the force at which your foot rolls in or out, deflecting pressure away from high-pressure areas, increasing cushioning ability of the foot etc. This direct adjustment within the feet can affect the function of your ankles, knees, hips and lower back (ie. a whole body adjustment). WILL I NEED TO WEAR MY ORTHOTICS FOREVER AND EVER? This answer is different for each person. What is the reason you are getting orthotics for in the first place? Is it because you are injured, or because you have benign joint hypermobility (double-jointed) allowing your arches to collapse? Many of our kids at Foundation Podiatry Townsville have worn orthotics for 2-4 years and then no longer require them as they have developed ideal foot posture and strength. Some of our patients have to wear their orthotics all of the time (not to bed) – but they are happy with this because they can run, jump, garden, play with their grandkids etc. pain free. Others may only wear their orthotics in their training shoes. Have a read of our more detailed article on Foot Supports (Orthotics). Every human foot is different, even from left to right. Therefore if orthotics are recommended for you it is important that they are customised to your feet!Read More