One of the many great reasons to live in this area, is the outdoors. For a runner or jogger, there is nothing better than lacing up your running shoes for the first run outdoors in the spring. Whether you are a seasoned runner or a beginner, Divine Savior Healthcare Podiatric Surgeon Dr. Stephen Murphy is here to get you off on the right foot.
While being a podiatrist makes Dr. Murphy an expert on feet, he’s also a seasoned runner with multiple 100-mile trail run and Ironman triathlon finishes under his belt. “As a podiatrist and a runner, I have seen and experienced many injuries as the result of not taking the proper precautions before running,” states Dr. Murphy. “By following the guidelines of the American Podiatric Medical Association, both novice and experienced runners alike can prevent injury.”
See Your Podiatrist
If you are thinking of taking up running or jogging, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a podiatrist before beginning an exercise or training regimen. The podiatrist can examine your feet, identify any potential issues you may have, prescribe orthotic devices where necessary, recommend the best running shoe for your foot and discuss the best way to go about conditioning.
“I recommend that you see your family physician before starting any exercise program if you are 40 years of age or older,” adds Dr. Murphy. “Your physician can make sure you do not have any medical conditions or issues with your heart, breathing, cholesterol or blood pressure that may be exacerbated by a sudden increase in your activity level.”
If you are a seasoned jogger or runner, it’s a good idea to check in with your podiatrist on a regular basis to keep your feet in good working order. The constant stress and force running puts on your feet can cause pain and potential injury. It’s a good idea to bring your running shoes to these visits.
Be Sure to Stretch
Stretching is essential to any sport or activity. The stress and strain on muscles, joints and tendons is drastically reduced if they are properly warmed up.
“My general recommendation is to take 10 minutes to stretch prior to any workout,” states Dr. Murphy. “Runners should be sure to stretch the muscles in the back and front of their legs and thighs.”
Proper Footwear is Key
During a 10-mile run, your foot hits the ground 15,000 times. It’s important that your footwear is supportive, relatively flexible and provides shock absorption. “I always tell athletes to be sure to purchase shoes that are specific to the activity you are going to use them for,” adds Dr. Murphy. “If you are participating in several sports or activities, purchase an appropriate shoe for each of them. I recommend runners replace their shoes every 400–500 miles.”
There are an increasing number of retail shoe stores that specialize in finding the perfect shoe for your lifestyle, weight, foot anatomy and activity. Your podiatrist can help with this and offer recommendations for shoe specialists. It’s wise to visit the store in the afternoon when your feet are a bit swollen and wear the socks you will wear when using the shoe for best fit.
“Athletes who try and run fast and hard right out of the gate will likely find themselves with an injury,” says Dr. Murphy. “I suggest that, in the beginning, runners take 3–4 months of conditioning four days per week to work up to a full blown running regimen.”
Start with jogging in two minute increments with fast walking for 5 minutes or so in between and gradually work up to 20 minutes of jogging by week 12 or so. Spend at least five workouts at each new level before increasing jogging minutes. If your muscles are aching or you have any pain, it’s important to take a day to rest the muscles and simply walk or jog instead.
Taking care of your feet during training is important as well. Keeping feet dry is key to preventing painful blisters.
Aches and Pains
“Even the most experienced and disciplined runners find themselves with an ache or pain at some point,” states Dr. Murphy. “Remember that running through the pain and pushing your limits will only result in more severe injury.”
At the onset of pain, it’s important to slow down and partake in easier exercises. If taking this time to rest doesn’t ease the pain, it’s time to stop the activity and call your podiatrist if it persists.
Dr. Murphy has been a podiatric surgeon for 21 years as well as an avid and experienced runner. He is board certified in podiatric surgery by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. If you have any concerns about your foot health, please call Dr. Murphy for an appointment at (608) 745-4598.
Top Three Running Injuries
• Most commonly caused by excessive stress on the bottom of the foot, resulting in inflammation of the fibrous band of tissue that runs from the heel to the toe on the bottom of the foot.
• Pain develops gradually over time
• Pain when you first get out of bed
• Pain described as “being stabbed in the heel”
• Can affect one foot or both
• Increased pain throughout day and after standing for a long period or climbing stairs.
• Gentle stretching before and after every run
• Wear supportive running shoes
• Shoe inserts
• Avoid over-training
• Increase running intensity, distance, and duration gradually
• Ice immediately
• Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories
• Taping, custom orthotics and/or night splint as directed by your podiatrist
• Lack of flexibility
• Pronation (Rolling of the foot)
• Mild ache/pain in the back of the leg and above heel after activity
• Tenderness or stiffness that improves with mild activity
• Mild swelling of the Achilles tendon
• Creaking sound when you touch or move the tendon
• Shoe inserts
• Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories
• Immobilization may be recommended by your podiatrist
• Repetitive force on the foot
• Localized pain and swelling that increases over time (can be days, weeks or months)
• Decreased swelling and pain with rest
• Modify running terrain, shoes or regimen
• Replace running shoes regularly
• See a podiatrist at onset of pain
• 8-10 weeks of complete rest to heal
• Casting or bracing by your podiatrist
If you think you may be suffering from any of these conditions, call (608) 745-4598 for a consultation with Dr. Stephen Murphy.