Over the past few years, I have developed a passion for running, particularly on trails and throughout the beautiful backcountry of New Zealand. What started out as an effective way to keep fit has now become part of my everyday life and I hope to keep it up for as long as my body allows me!
Sometimes you forget the stress that your body endures whilst running and the increased risk of injury when you train frequently. In the past few weeks during my training, I have experienced some mild discomfort in the arch of my right foot. After researching the symptoms online I became suspicious that it could be the onset of plantar fasciitis, a condition that is often considered to be a runner’s worst nightmare. With the City2Surf fast approaching, I decided to go for a foot check with SportsMed Podiatry to see what the problem was.
I met with Loren Abel, a new addition to the highly skilled podiatry team at SportsMed. Loren started by asking about my running tendencies, what footwear I use and where exactly I had been experiencing pain. After giving some context to the issue, she started by examining my feet which included the application of some light pressure to the arch of my right foot. After ruling out the presence of a fibroma (a fibrous nodule within the plantar fascia), she then inspected my joint range of motion and general flexibility.
Assessing the injured foot and pinpointing the location of the pain
In the first exercise which tests calf flexibility, Loren was looking for my foot-leg angle to be greater than 90 degrees (see the difference between the two images below showing what is considered good and bad calf flexibility).
Good vs bad calf flexibility
Similarly with the knee to wall test, the aim was to measure flexibility of the calf and ankle. With the toes at least 10cm away from the wall, the goal was to touch the wall with the knee and once again I showed an acceptable level of flexibility in this test.
Knee to wall test
Next up, I jumped on the treadmill so that Loren could assess my running form and identify any overpronation or ‘rolling in’ of the feet. The reverse camera is set up to measure certain angles as well as provide a good visual explanation of running form to the patient. Loren observed me in two different pairs of shoes, one pair used predominantly for road running and the other for trail running. The aim was to see whether or not there was a difference in my foot strike and to assess the level of support that each shoe provides. As you can see, I have a slightly greater overpronation in the road shoes compared to the more cushioned trail shoes. To optimise efficiency and reduce the risk of injury you are aiming for a neutral foot strike where the angle is as close to 180 degrees as possible.
Assessing my foot strike
After taking into consideration all of the assessments, Loren suggested taping my right foot as a guide to see if the symptoms improve and to indicate whether orthotics may be required further down the line. Plantar fascial pain, which is focussed around the thick supportive band of fibrous tissue in the sole of the foot, is one of the most common injuries that podiatrists treat in runners. SportsMed Podiatry can help you by providing shoe advice, such as highlighting certain features that should ideally be present in current or future running shoes.
The supportive taping
The taping feels nice and supportive whilst also not restricting movement so I am keen to see how things go. I will be following up with Loren next week to provide feedback and to discuss the next steps in treating my foot injury.
If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort yourself then why not book an appointment with the SportsMed team today by clicking here.
Written by Rich Negus (City2Surf Event Coordinator)