With (hopefully!) sunnier and longer days upon us, summer is a great time of year to get your running shoes on. As a keen runner myself, I understand the appeal; it’s pure, it’s meditative, and it gets your blood pumping like little else.
Unfortunately, for all its positives, running can be problematic for the body and it tends to bring out minor issues and turn them into major ones. These often include achilles tendonitis, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, ITB syndrome, stress fractures, hip and lower back issues, and more knee problems than I have time to list.
Many of the problems from running come from two areas. Firstly, heel strike which is where the heel hits the ground repeatedly and sends a shock through the whole skeleton which causes issues from the heel itself all the way up to the lower back. Secondly, gait – which is the way a person walks; the whole lower limb (especially the knee) is quite finely tuned to work in certain ways, and anything that affects that can begin to cause problems. A dropped arch, tight muscle, old injury, slight one-sidedness etc can bring these issues on.
What can be done to prevent these issues?
Like always, the number one rule is to get any symptoms you are experiencing looked at as soon as possible. Early diagnosis, advice and treatment is vital.
One thing that can really help heel strike and gait is by getting the right trainers. Here’s a few things to consider:
- Don’t confuse fashion and effectiveness. Good running trainers generally don’t look cool! Some of the bigger brands will advertise to you that they are great for sports but do your research. I would usually recommend Asics or Brooks.
- Replace your shoes regularly. The soles of most trainers are good for about 200-250 miles maximum. So, if you’re running 20 miles per week, you’ll probably need to replace them after 4-6 months.
The shoe may still look okay after that but there is an increased risk of injury. It is, therefore, important to ensure that you are replacing your trainers as regularly as required.
- You don’t need to buy the most recent model. Many of the best running trainers are on their 20th/30th or so iteration. When a new model is released the price of the last couple of iterations will drop quite significantly, and will still be an excellent option.
- Good arch support. Trainers largely work on preventing pronation etc. by the way they flex. Many have little if any arch support, even with good ones you may need an additional orthotic insole made for your specific needs. This may also mean you need half a size bigger.
- Speak to the experts. A running machine in a shoe shop is useful, but remember the shop assistant has probably only had a brief introduction in what to look for, and no idea of your other contributing factors. Speak to a specialist – an osteopath, podiatrist, or physio.
OSTEOPATH AT FLEET STREET CLINIC
Andrew Doody is an osteopath at Fleet Street Clinic and is fully registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOSC).
Book an appointment with him if you have any musculoskeletal injuries by calling +44 20 7353 5678, email firstname.lastname@example.org or book an appointment online.