Running pre-training tips

Before you ‘get fit’, consider these running pre-training tips and whether you need your foot and lower limb mechanics assessed

With the popularity of half marathons and sports tourism, it seems that most people we know are training for a new event that pushes them physically and mentally. Fitness, in whatever form you wish to do, is definitely an activity that should be encouraged in all of us, no matter the age. Unfortunately it’s often not as simple as deciding to ‘get fit’. Various issues may impact our fitness drive and performance.

Are you living in your fitness past?

What we once were capable of in our teens or twenties might not be physically as easy as we head into our forties and fifties. You may have once been a stand out runner at school or university but if you have not maintained your physical condition, you can’t expect your body to get straight back into running as the years have passed. Too often as podiatrists we see people in their thirties and forties coming in with heel pain and foot complaints due to resuming levels of activity they do not usually engage in. The classic sprained ankle, or the physio’s favourite, the pulled hamstring from the dad’s social soccer game, are all too common.

How to confront your fitness present

This doesn’t mean you can’t exercise at high levels again. It is just incredibly important that you prepare your body for your physical goals. As we age our muscles and tendons become less elastic and require more regular maintenance such as warming up, stretching and strengthening.

To run a half marathon or take up long-distance running you need to do the basic preparation first. From a podiatric perspective, it is vital that you have the most appropriate and correct fitting footwear. Poor fitting footwear can lead to blisters, ingrown toenails and heel pain and can cause muscle strains and injury. And your footwear should be up-to-date. The average running shoe has a lifespan of approximately 700-1100 kms. This will vary depending on your body weight, how often you are running, the surfaces you run on, running form, the shoe materials etc. But running shoes do wear out, even if the look “new”. Unfortunately more often than not, most runners will not be aware they need new shoes until their body tells them otherwise. Obviously this places you at potential risk of injury and out of the race.

Seek professional advice

Another important preparation is to assess foot and lower limb biomechanics. This will ensure that your body is moving at its best and any unnecessary strain is not being placed on your knees, ankles or feet. Running, especially on hard surfaces, has a strong impact on your joints, muscles and bones and can cause unexpected problems. For example, hip instability or knee problems may be caused by poor foot posture. Assessment and treatment by a qualified podiatrist can help improve your foot function and efficiency, helping you to run at your best.

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