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4 Tips from Podiatrists for beginner runners

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

With summer fast approaching there is no better time to get outside in the warmer weather and start running. Whether it be training towards a fun run, building some base fitness for next season’s AFL or netball season, or just to live a healthier and happier lifestyle, running is one of the most accessible forms of exercise.

However, despite its ease of access, running also comes with many risks of injury and possible interruptions due to its high impact nature.

Did you know?

  • A novice runner has a 17.8% chance of developing a running related injury per 1000 hours of running.

  • This decreases to 7.7% for more experienced recreational runners.

So what can you do to commence running whilst also minimising your chance of injury?

1. Starting slow

Humans are designed by nature to be fit but not necessarily fast. Our aerobic system can be trained and improved, however our anaerobic system can not be improve at the same rate, and also creates harmful byproducts that can greatly slow our recovery rates. One of the most common errors novice runners will make is to blast out the door as fast as they can, get a big lactic burn and actually hinder their ability to absorb any aerobic benefits they may have made.

Start slow, jogs should not be hard, even if you have to walk/jog. Keeping that intensity down will allow for a more sustainable build towards your fitness. Keep in mind, aerobic should be a somewhat sustainable pace and any effort longer than 30 minutes will have a 98% contribution by your aerobic energy system. Pushing too hard over these kinds of times will lead to little benefits to your fitness and mean you will have a much longer recovery window before you can go out and exercise again.

2. Running Footwear

There is little evidence to suggest a certain type or category of running shoe will reduce injury. However, different shoes will load up different areas of your feet and legs, as well as provide different levels of stability and support. What this means is that there is no “perfect” shoe for everyone.

Shoes with a higher pitch (difference in heel to forefoot midsole height) will load up more proximal structures such as knees and hips, and the opposite can be said for shoes with a lower pitch, loading up more around the achilles, calves and ankles. As everyone runs with their own running technique and is also stronger or weaker in certain areas, a podiatrist can assess your running gait, strength, movement patterns and injury history to give you some accurate suggestions for suitable footwear options.

3. Strength and stability training

Running requires both strength and is also a movement pattern much like any other skill. Your soleus muscle in your calf generates approximately 7-8x your bodyweight of force whilst running. Poor movement patterns paired with muscular weaknesses is often the precursor to injury. To better ensure you are ready to start building fitness, an assessment of your strength, muscular endurance and movement patterns can allow a podiatrist to develop a strength and conditioning program that will support and protect you.

4. Running surfaces

Your body comes built with an amazing sensory ability to subconsciously know how hard the surface is you run on. After quickly establishing this it stiffens or loosens depending on the surface you are running on. For example, when running on the road, your tendons will be less stiff in order to better shock absorb the more sudden force transferred from the hard bitumen surface.

The opposite is seen when running on grass. As the surface is soft your tendons will stiffen up in order to better counteract the slower transfer of force from that softer surface. What this means is that some injuries (or precursors to injuries) are better dealt with running on either hard or conversely softer surfaces as this will change how the tendons function. A podiatrist can assess certain injuries in order to determine if they may benefit from training surface modification.

Speak to one of our Podiatrists today by calling 1300 002 257 or click here to book a consultation.


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