August 18, 2011

Don’t Let Ankle Injury Prevent You from Reaching the Finish Line

Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Surgeons Offer Training Advice and Injury Prevention Tips

ROSEMONT, Ill., Aug. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Soaring gas prices may have slowed vacation travelers this summer but nothing seems to stop the number of Americans hitting the road, running. Nearly 50 million runners/joggers pound the pavement each week logging in an average of 24.4 miles, according to the National Runner Survey, 2011. With all that running, feet take a beating. More than 165,000 people were treated in hospitals, doctor's offices and emergency rooms for running related injuries in 2009, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. If you're one of the 50 million, how do you minimize foot and ankle injuries? The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) offers advice to keep you injury-free and on track.


Judith F. Baumhauer, M.D., President of the AOFAS, a runner and orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon who practices in Rochester, NY points out, "We carry approximately four to six times our body weight across the ankle joint as we walk and six to eight times our body weight with running. Our feet are our body's shock absorbers. The repetitive pounding on our ankle joint and ball of our feet can produce all sorts of painful injuries including stress fractures, peroneal tendon tears, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis."

The AOFAS offers the following injury prevention tips, training techniques and shoe wear advice for both the marathon finisher and the weekend warrior, tips include:

Injury Prevention

  • Warm up and stretch both before and after running. Stretch the gastrocnemius (calf), quadriceps (thigh), and hamstring muscles. Stretching the Achilles tendon will reduce forefoot impact and help preserve normal foot shock-absorbing mechanics.
  • Include strengthening exercises in your routine to improve balance and prevent injuries
  • Start slowly, work your way up in both distance and intensity.
  • Run on a shock absorbing surface, such as a running track, that decreases the pounding to your feet and legs.
  • Keep hydrated and take time to cool down properly after running.
  • Don't increase the distance of your run by more than 10% per week.

Training Techniques

  • Avoid taking too wide a stride, by having your feet land just beneath your hips.
  • Keep your shoulders back and your hands comfortable and lightly cupped, Avoid clenching your fists to avoid creating tension in your shoulders and arms.
  • Maintain your elbows at 90 degrees and close to your body. If your elbows flare out, it will make your upper body less efficient.
  • Avoid unaccustomed strenuous sprinting.

Shoe wear

  • Use footwear that offers good shock absorption and excellent support. Make sure your toes do not rub in the toe box of the shoe.
  • Shoes wear out after 400 miles of use; throw out old athletic shoes.
  • Choose a comfortable shoe. A stiffer heel counter of a running shoe gives more rear foot control protecting the foot and ankle from rolling.
  • If you need extra support, over the counter inserts are excellent for cushioning or for applying extra pads (such as metatarsal pad) for toe joint pain, or neuroma.

Barefoot running is a popular trend these days. Is running barefoot good for your feet? Proponents of running barefoot claim it improves performance and decreases rate of injury, although there is no scientific evidence to support these facts. It is claimed that barefoot runners put less stress on their heels because heel strike is minimized or eliminated. Barefoot runners also tout the benefits of strengthening the muscles in their feet. The risks of barefoot running include increased risk of stress fractures in the metatarsals and risk of puncture wounds on the soles of the feet.

When asked about the merit and/or detriment of running barefoot, Eric Bluman, M.D., Ph.D., an AOFAS member, a Boston orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon and avid runner says, "Many publicly advocate for barefoot or minimalist running but we lack scientific studies evaluating the benefits and risks of this trend. Since the inception of the minimalist/barefoot running movement I have treated many experienced runners who sustained injuries as a result of switching to this style. People should realize that minimalist/barefoot running is not risk free."

Whether you're running around the block or sprinting to the finish line, click onto , the AOFAS patient education website, to find additional advice and resources on foot and ankle care. The site also features a referral service that makes it easy for patients to find a local orthopaedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle care.

Orthopaedic Distinction:

AOFAS News Center:

SOURCE American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society