Magazine article USA TODAY

Helping Runners to Avoid Physical Problems. (Feet)

Magazine article USA TODAY

Helping Runners to Avoid Physical Problems. (Feet)

Article excerpt

Long-distance runners and casual joggers can improve their performance by keeping their feet in top condition and taking steps to control foot problems common in runners, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS). "The human foot is a biological masterpiece that amazingly endures the stresses of daily activity," says Marybeth Crane, a spokesperson for the ACFAS and a foot and ankle surgeon in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Tex., area. "For runners, the feet are more vulnerable to injury than any other part of the body, and these athletes should be on the alert for signs of foot problems that can slow them down if not treated promptly."

An avid marathon runner, Crane says the most common complaint from runners is heel pain caused by inflammation of the ligament that holds up the arch, a condition which is known as plantar fasciitis. "In athletes, heel pain can result from faulty mechanics and overpronation in which pressure is unequally applied to the inside of the foot. It also can be caused by wearing running shoes that are worn out or too soft." At the first sign of heel pain, she advises runners to do stretching exercises, wear sturdier shoes, and use arch supports. In some cases, icing and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, are helpful. Should heel pain continue, custom orthotics, injections, and physical therapy might be required. Surgery normally isn't considered unless heel pain persists for more than a year and conservative treatment has failed to bring relief. …

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