Written by Michelle Champlin BSc Pod., M.Ch.S., S.R., Ch., (UK)
For every foot, there is a sports shoe that offers perfect or near perfect fit.
At Dubai Podiatry Centre, Chief Podiatrist Michelle Champlin has treated thousands of runners over the past 15 years. Runners and triathletes (as well as any elite, professional or amateur level athlete) are fabulous patients! They are generally very aware of their health especially their leg and foot biomechanics. They take their sport seriously and are very conscientious about treating injuries, aware of the impact that downtime can have on their training schedules or races.
What Causes Runners’ Injuries?
When Podiatrists educate runners on what causes traditional “overuse” running injuries, the following factors tend to be discussed:
• poor foot alignment biomechanics
• strength and flexibility issues
• incorrect footwear
• terrain issues (from urban concrete to Wadi trails).
Other considerations can include old / untreated musculo-skeletal issues (even old ankle sprains), nutrition and fatigue.
Although almost all runners will sustain some form of injury during the course of their running ‘career’ we can certainly do our best to minimize the risk, and treat early when they do occur. As Podiatrists specializing in biomechanics, Dubai Podiatry Centre seeks to work with runners and athletes to improve performance, minimize the risk of recurrence and reduce downtime, especially by improving any lower limb alignment issues.
Biomechanics & Orthotics
At Dubai Podiatry Centre, the Podiatrists look at the ‘big picture’ and seek to address the underlying root cause of any problem rather than repeatedly treating just ‘symptoms’. For example, callous patterns – rather than reducing corns or callous every six months – addressing why specific forces cause it.
Strengthening the whole leg from the hip and core all the way down to the toes is crucial. Our specialist biomechanical training and expertise tells us that if the foot is in an abnormal position (commonly overpronated), the lever and pulley system of the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles will never work to its full capacity – limiting the runner’s performance.
This negates the myth that using a proper shoe and orthotic device will cause atrophy of the foot muscles. This is not true. It is just the opposite and something that Podiatrists discuss with their patients thoroughly at assessment and at orthotic fitting.
A shoe for every foot: Podiatrists must take a thorough history and perform a thorough physical and biomechanical exam so we can identify any root cause. If someone has specific forefoot or rearfoot needs, a single shoe cannot change that and that is why custom orthotics are a necessity in many patients.
Custom orthotics can slow down or halt the progression of various forefoot issues, such as hammertoes, hallux valgus or hallux limitus. This takes biomechanical knowledge and a good examination, and preferably a clinic with facilities to make their own custom orthotics from scratch.
Podiatrists can also discuss with runners proper form and make sure that the body is just forward of the ‘plumb line’ and that the foot lands in a more “midfoot” strike position. Doing this will limit over-striding and increased stresses at heel strike – basically take shorter, faster strides. This can help fight common running issues such as shin splints.
There are a mind boggling number of groups in the media and on the Internet telling runners how to run and what the ‘perfect’ feet and body should look like. However, in the end, all that matters is good form, well aligned biomechanics, good strength, flexibility and stepping up training distances and times gradually.
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