Blog

To run or not to run?

How often have you walked past a runner and wondered whether they should be running or not?

I often see parks full of runners and wonder why these people are running themselves towards a premature knee or hip replacement. Quite frankly, some of these people should have sought professional advice from a podiatrist before embarking on their personal crusade.

Certain predisposing factors can determine the ease of which someone can run. I will quickly discuss these factors and some of their ramifications.

Leg Angulation

Leg angulation is the major influencing factor on the feet of an individual. Your parents have a ‘big say in this’. Your leg angulation is something you can’t do anything about, but too often I will see a personal trainer “flogging” someone with running drills not understanding why this client is finding the activity difficult. For example, let’s take a thirty something male/female, with “knock knees” or genu valgum, wanting to complete the city to surf. Because the major stabilisation joint of the foot doesn’t possess any muscle attachments, this joint is extremely susceptible to leg angulation. Hence the knock kneed runner forces the foot to ‘pronate’ or ‘roll in’ to end range every step he/she takes. This not only places rotational forces through the foot, knee and hip but excessive ‘shock’ forces up into knees, hips and back. If footwear is inappropriate ( say a pair of Nike Frees) then this person will be paying the school fees of the local orthopaedic surgeon in 10 years’ time.

This person has two choices, change your foot to suit your activity or change your activity to suit your foot type. A change of activity might involve short distance running, X-trainer, cycling, swimming or circuit training. Too often this person will be ill-advised and literally run themselves towards the operating table.

Treatment for this person involves biomechanical video assessment, correct footwear and custom foot orthotics.

Ground Surface

As primitive human beings we were designed to be walking on soft forest floors i.e. mulch leaves. When I walk out of my Surry Hills Practice, I fail to see an abundance of this ‘stuff’. Concrete footpaths, asphalt roads, tiles and floor boards greet my every step. These surfaces fail to ‘push up’ into your foot and cushion the impact. Flexible custom foot orthotics can provide the necessary cushioning and support your feet need.

I prefer to run on soft grass. As boring as running around an oval is, it might save your knees and the need for top cover private health insurance! Treadmill, soft sand and track running also have advantages, with soft sand running best suited to certain foot types.

These are just two factors influencing the decision to run or “not to run?” I look forward to discussing other issues with you in the near future.

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