If you’re interested in running, you really need to consider your foot health.

That might seem obvious, but here at Freeland Foot & Ankle, we see plenty of runners come through our doors.

Now, we’ve all felt some pain in our feet when working out from time to time, but it’s important to consider the risk of injury before you begin a training regimen. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to the type of overuse injuries that we frequently see with runners.

With that information in mind, here are our recommendations make sure that you have the healthiest and most effective running regimen possible.

What are you training for?

This might sound like a rather silly question, but it will determine the mileage and intensity at which you train.

Are you going to be running a marathon, like the Detroit Marathon? You’ll need to plan accordingly to make sure that you’re progressively increasing the amount of distance you run per workout.

Are you just looking to lose a bit of weight and be healthier? If so, you might not need to run the high mileage races that wreak havoc on your heels and the bottom of your foot, if done incorrectly. Lower mileage or a more relaxed pace might be a better choice.

As you can see, it’s important to know what you’re trying to accomplish. This is also easier for your training anyway. Don’t train like you’re going to run a marathon if you really only want to do a 10K.

Do you have the right pair of shoes?

Throwing any pair of shoes on and running is not the best way to tackle a run. If you did it every once in a while, so be it, but it’s not recommended for avid runners.

If you’re going to be putting some serious miles on your feet—whether you’re training for a race or just run for pleasure once a week or more—it’ll be worth your time and money to invest in the right pair of shoes. Don’t expect you can get away with wearing an ordinary pair of sneakers, or the same shoes that you wear for a different sport (tennis, basketball, etc.)

Running shoes are optimized for the kinds of impact forces you’re likely to deal with from straight-ahead running, while remaining as light as possible for long-term comfort. They can also be made with features that accommodate quirks of your individual stride, including overpronation or underpronation, in order to minimize the risk of injury.

Yes, they might cost you a bit more upfront, but properly fitting shoes will decrease your odds of plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis considerably. And if you’re not sure how to find a pair that’s right for your gait style, come see us—we’re happy to help.

Increase Intensity Gradually

Increasing distance too rapidly is one of the most common causes of plantar fasciitis, the leading heel pain condition for adults.

The plantar fascia—the thick, bow-shaped band at the bottom of your foot—essentially acts as a shock absorber to the force you exert on your feet, gently flexing to spread out impact forces. However, if used too frequently, this band becomes inflamed and often causes sharp pain in the bottom of the heel,

Plantar fasciitis is most commonly seen in those who are overweight, people who stand all day for work, and—you guessed it—runners. Now, there’s nothing you can do fully eliminate your risk of developing plantar fasciitis, but gradually upping speed, distance, and intensity is a pretty good first step.

We would recommend never increasing by any more than 10% as a rule of thumb. Of course, this is a general guideline, but it still holds merit.

Pay Attention to Your Feet

If you’re a dedicated athlete, you’ve played through a lot of pain. That’s commendable and a great skill for a long-distance runner. You can’t get across the finish line if you’re unable to break through your mental barriers and push past your limits. (Plus, runner highs are pretty fun!)

However, it’s still vital that you are aware of what your body tells you. If your heels are screaming with every step, something is wrong. No amount of pushing through the pain or toughing it out will make it better. If anything, it’ll make it worse.

In the long run (pun intended), getting treatment early for a problem rather than letting it fester and worsen is going to allow you to spend more time on your feet running and feeling great. Trying to ignore the pain will only make you quit earlier, or quit entirely—and spend a lot longer recovering.

Come See Us

If you do experience the telltale signs of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, shin pain, or any other discomfort that limits or even completely impairs your ability to run, please seek medical attention right away. Again, fixing a problem early in its onset is going to be a lot easier than correcting a long-established one.

We’ve got several innovative treatments to offer, depending on your specific condition, needs, and medical history. They include laser therapy, EPAT, custom orthotics, and other treatments! Sometimes we might only recommend stretching so many times a day; other times we might suggest anti-inflammatory medication.

There’s only one way to find out, of course. For quick relief from pain and a full return to running, call us today at (989) 695-6788 or fill out an online contact form!

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