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Running is a wonderful form of exercise. Not only does it work out your body, but many runners cite the mental benefits of reduced stress. However, if you’re running with an improper technique, you are leaving yourself open to injury and pain.

 

The Ideal Running Position

Proper running form includes your head, back, arms, legs, and feet. Start from a relaxed position with your head up and shoulders down. Keep your back straight so your head, shoulders, and hips stay in an upright line. Arms should swing directly ahead in pace with your legs. Don’t lock your knees when your foot strikes the ground. Keep your legs relaxed and flexible. Aim to land on the middle portion of your foot with each step, then roll off through the front of your toes.

 

Less Than Ideal

If you have a less than ideal running posture and form, then you are leaving yourself open to injury and pain. Avoid heel-striking or toe-striking. Landing on your heels impedes forward momentum and puts additional strain on your legs and knees, often causing shin splints. Landing on your toes is jarring to your foot and can lead to stress fractures in the toes or metatarsal bones. Other common running injuries that occur from improper form include Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.

 

What Is My Form?

The best way to determine if you have a proper running form is to video yourself running. Take multiple videos from different views and angles. Be sure to include a video of your entire body (to see about proper head, back, and arms form) and several videos zoomed in on your feet. If in doubt, head to a running-specific shoe store or your podiatrist for an evaluation.

 

What Can I Do About My Form?

If you find that you are primarily a toe or heel-striker, there are ways to modify your stride to strike mid-foot. This takes a conscious effort and practice, so don’t expect things to change on your very next run. Try practicing your stride on soft surfaces (grass, carpet, etc.) with no shoes. Your foot is more likely to land naturally on the mid-foot when you are barefoot. Also, look for shoes with an increased heel-to-toe drop. This style initiates a mid-foot strike and helps with keeping proper form.

 

Walking and running are great for your health… mostly. Unfortunately, walking and running injuries are common and can affect your ability to participate in these daily activities. Here, we break down the top three running/walking injuries and what to do about them.

 

Achilles Tendonitis

 

One of the most common injuries in runners is Achilles tendonitis. This condition presents with pain in the back and bottom of the heel bone. The pain may be sharp, or it can feel like a constant, dull ache. This pain generally increases when you push off for stepping or when you climb stairs.

 

You can help avoid Achilles tendonitis by stretching your calf and hamstring muscles well before each run. Well-fitting shoes and avoiding steep inclines and declines can also help. If you are experiencing pain from Achilles tendonitis, do not continue your activity.

 

Use ice and OTC pain medications to treat immediate symptoms, then call the FAAWC for an appointment. Your podiatrist may recommend compression socks, ankle contracture splints to stretch the calf muscle, physical therapy, or complete immobilization for 1-2 weeks.

 

Plantar Fasciitis

 

We talk about this one a lot. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common injuries for athletes and runners. Like Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis presents with pain, mostly in the back and bottom of the heel. This pain will be sharp and often occurs with your first steps in the morning.

 

Plantar fasciitis pain can be treated with OTC pain meds and ice, but intervention from a podiatrist is necessary to resolve symptoms for good. Your podiatrist might immobilize the plantar fascia with taping or recommend a calf splint. They may offer injections to reduce swelling and promote healing. You may also be prescribed orthotics to assist with good foot movement during activity.

 

Wearing proper shoes with your new orthotics and paying attention to what your feet are telling you is critical for healing. Recognizing signs and seeking treatment early will increase your chances of eliminating symptoms for good.


 

Stress Fracture

 

Stress fractures occur over time from the constant impact of walking and running. Most often, stress fractures occur in the metatarsal bones (the long bones connected to your toes). These hairline fractures cause a dull, prolonged aching in the ball of the foot.

 

To diagnose a stress fracture, you will need to see a podiatrist. Your podiatrist will take x-rays of the hurting area to identify the exact location and severity of the fracture. They may run additional tests to rule out whether the fracture occurred due to bone density or nutrition issues. Walking boots are commonly prescribed to help reduce stress on the fracture. You will need to keep pressure off the foot until healing concludes which means limiting or suspending your exercise.

 

The best way to avoid a stress fracture is to wear well-fitting and padded shoes. Ask your podiatrist about orthotics to help with any improper foot mechanics. Don’t increase your distance, pace, or frequency of exercise suddenly. Stop running when the pain starts and seek treatment immediately.

 

Exercise is important, but an injury can occur easily and cause significant pain if you aren’t paying attention to the signs and symptoms. To avoid the three most common running/walking injuries, take care of your feet and visit your podiatrist often.

 

If you’ve learned anything this month, hopefully you’ve learned how vital your Achilles tendon is to your daily foot and ankle functioning. If you have experienced acute or chronic pain in your Achilles tendon and calf muscle, you require treatment.

 

Conservative treatments for Achilles-related injuries include rest, bracing, heel lifts, calf stretching, physical therapy, immobilization, and steroid shots. However, some Achilles issues require a surgical solution.

 

If your Achilles tendon has ruptured, a surgical solution can reattach the ends of the tendon and allow healing to progress. If you experience chronic insertional pain or have a heel spur that is not improving and causing issues for your Achilles, a surgical solution may be necessary. Surgery can also be used to lengthen calf muscles, which can greatly affect your Achilles tendon health.

Surgery for Achilles tendon issues is quite common. In fact, it is one of the MOST common foot and ankle injuries. The surgery necessary will depend on the cause of your issues. For bone spurs, the tendon is detached, the spur is removed, the tendon is cleaned up, and then the Achilles is reattached. During a lengthening procedure, the tendon is released from either the heel or high up in the calf muscle and then lengthened and reattached.

Patients will need to remain non-weight bearing for six to eight weeks and then walk with a boot or brace. Physical therapy to strengthen the Achilles and calf may continue for two to three months after your surgical procedure. Regular physical exercise can be resumed within four to six months.

If you are living with an Achilles tendon issue, heel spurs, or tight calf muscles, a surgical solution may be the answer you are looking for. Call the FAAWC today to schedule your appointment. 740.363.4373.


 

The Achilles tendon is closely connected to the calf muscle. In fact, one might say they are best friends. The calf is made of several bundles of muscles including the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The Achilles tendon connects the ends of these muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus). The tendon originates near the middle of these muscles and terminates into the back of the heel bone.

 

Unfortunately, because the Achilles and your calf muscles are linked so closely, something that injures or affects one is likely to injure or affect the other. Tight calf muscles have the greatest effect. A tight calf muscle puts strain or tension on the Achilles at its points of insertion. This can lead to bone spurs and tendonitis. It also causes midfoot strain, increased pressure on the heel and ball of the foot, and tearing of the plantar fascia.

 

Stretching your calf muscles before and after exercise or activity can help keep muscles loose and reduce strain on the Achilles. If you are experiencing pain in the back of your heel, ankle, or calf, call the FAAWC today at 740.363.4374.

 

Last week we discussed the importance of the Achilles tendon. Today, we explore how it can be affected by chronic and acute damage. A healthy tendon does not rupture. If you experience a tendon rupture—either chronic or acute—this means there is an underlying condition or disease affecting the tendon.

 

Many factors can contribute to a ruptured Achilles tendon. The most common cause is a flexing of the back of the foot while the muscle is still engaged. Ruptures can also occur from sudden, direct trauma to the area. Or from a sudden activation of the Achilles. Some antibiotics (famously ciprofloxacin) are known to increase the risk of tendon ruptures.

 

You are most likely to rupture your Achilles tendon if you perform regular physical activities that strain your ankle and calf. Elite athletes are at risk, as are the elderly, and people who have experienced ruptures before. Other factors that can contribute to an Achilles rupture include being overweight, wearing high heels, and poor foot support or structure.

 

If you believe you have ruptured or torn your Achilles tendon, see a podiatrist right away. They will perform a physical exam and oral history to determine the cause. Radiographs may be used to check for bone spurs or other causes of pain. And MRIs are becoming more common for diagnosing Achilles tendon ruptures.

 

Depending on the patient’s age, lifestyle, and overall health, the ruptured Achilles may be treated in several ways. Minor ruptures in healthy persons can be healed with a cast and physical therapy. Patients may have a full cast or a brace and must remain inactive while healing continues. Over-the-counter pain medications, heel lifts, RICE, stretching, and the MLS laser are all therapeutic options for Achilles tendon ruptures. However, in many cases, surgical intervention is necessary to repair the tendon.

 

If you are worried about or have pain in your Achilles tendon, call the FAAWC today at 740.363.4373.

 




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