Are you fit to run?  Advice from Stephen Hewitt Consultant Podiatric Surgeon

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Are you fit to run?  Advice from Stephen Hewitt Consultant Podiatric Surgeon, North Downs Hospital, Caterham.
The recent Covid isolation restrictions has seen many people deciding to take up running to get fit, but is this the correct way to achieve that Adonis status? I have seen a recent increase of chronic running injuries in my clinics.

We all know someone who eats like a horse, is stick thin and runs all over the world with the greatest of ease.  However, we have to remember that these ‘gazelles’ have been gradually developing their strength, endurance, stamina; proprioception (spatial awareness) and more importantly the physiology to cope with those demands. Sports scientists all agree on the huge benefits that running brings to your physiology and mental health, it is cheap, easy and is not restricted by gym opening times. However, if you are not physiologically fit then often you will end up on the physiotherapist or surgeons table with chronic musculo-skeletal lower limb injuries, including muscle or tendon pathology; stress fractures, shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome) or even in the long term degenerative arthritis.

In an unfit person there is a direct effect of muscle fatigue on foot and knee function with the increased risk of chronic injury, so what does this mean? The more functionally adept your running pattern the less muscle fatigue and less injury. It is clear that strength training and adequate flexibility improves muscle performance; endurance and reduced anaerobic feedback which all improve fitness and reduce injury. 

Appropriate footwear is also very important in people new to running in injury prevention, most people make the mistake of starting to run in grossly inappropriate footwear (designer trainers) or spending hundreds of pounds on running trainers. Neither are required, yet! Initially, until your muscles can cope (improved function) then the training shoe needs to be quite cushioned, to help absorb the pounding of ground reaction forces. As you improve or maybe develop a huge interest in running then progressing to more appropriate resilient running shoes which are designed to cope with hundreds of miles of running.

What is the take home message ?

Stephen, our Consultant Podiatric surgeon can appraise you gait and running style, assess and appropriately treat your injury either conservatively or surgically, including tendon; muscle or ankle ligament injuries; compartment syndromes; painful neuroma or bursa; stress fractures by utilising our extensive imaging facilities. Simple joint Injections of Hyaluronan visco-supplement or a steroid injection to reduce the pain and swelling; or indeed para-tendon guided injection (Prolotherapy; High volume injections) can promote early healing and return to sport. You can be referred by your Podiatric surgeon to visit our physiotherapists for personalised treatment or advice on flexibility and strengthening exercise training or utilise our non invasive modalities including ultrasound or ECSWT (extra corporeal shockwave therapy) all in concert with temporary functional orthoses prior to commencing running.

Let’s get fit to run!

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