4th August 4, 2015
It’s that time of year again and the recreational walkers / runners are out and about, training for this annual event. In just 5 days, on August 9th, troops of people, young and old, fit or flabby, male or female will be pounding the roads that head East from the Sydney CBD to the shores of Bondi Beach. It’s about this time each year that we see plenty of new patients in the clinic, each turning up with injuries such as Heel Pain, Shin Splints, Plantar Fasciitis or calf strains. It’s no surprise to us as Sports Podiatrists as we understand the causes of such conditions, but the recreational runner doesn’t.
Zero to hero
As I have said in many of my previous articles, you are highly likely to develop Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Pain, Achilles Tendonitis and other conditions such as Shin Splints, if you increase your level of activity too quickly. It’s so important to start low and go slow. This allows the body to adjust. It’s known as conditioning, and its overlooked far too much. Your foot and leg muscles need to strengthen throughout the course of your training, and recover. Rest days in between will allow growth and repair. The tightness in the muscles which develops as you increase activity is a problem, but this can be helped by stretching and by resting in between exercise days.
Tight muscle groups
The tight muscles create bio-mechanical in-efficiencies. Calf muscles, hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes. These all affect stride and foot function. The straw that breaks the camels back is the tightness in the calf muscles which creates pulling on the heels. This is one of the most obvious causes of Heel Pain, and Plantar Fasciitis, as well as Achilles tendonitis. Nearly every patient that I treat for Plantar Fasciitis has tight calf muscles! Its no co-incidence – If you have tight calves, you are highly likely going to develop some form of Heel Pain. If you want to avoid conditions such as Plantar Fasciitis then pay attention to your calf muscles during your training regime.
The hills are out to get you!
Here’s a simple fact… Walking or running up hills loads your calf muscles. Therefore, your calf muscles will become fatigued and will feel tight the more you hit the hills. We all know about the hills that are involved with City to Surf so it’s important to stretch calves regularly to avoid Heel Pain. It’s no coincidence that a large percentage of new patients that we treat for Plantar Fasciitis have been hill training. Yes it’s a great work out, but yes you’re more likely going to develop Heel Pain. Introduce the hills slowly, and have those rest days in between.
Personally, I’m a big fan of Endura drinks. sodium, potassium and magnesium. Your muscles are depleted of these trace elements the more you exercise. You can drink these products before, during and after training. These drinks can help you feel better and reduce fatigue and there’s a chance they might help with that calf muscle tightness too. So in a way, Endura drinks are helping with Plantar Fasciitis and other causes of Heel Pain.
A final word
Enjoy the day, enjoy the race, and enjoy the social gatherings in Bondi Beach afterwards. I’m sure many of you will head straight to cafes and eateries for breakfast / lunch, depending upon what time you arrive, but don’t forget to warm down and stretch. The important muscle groups after such a hilly run are quads, hamstrings, calves and gluts. And if we really want to avoid Heel Pain and Plantar Fasciitis then we know we really have to commit to the calf stretch. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and do each leg 3 times. See below:
- One foot back, one foot forward
- Both feet point directly ahead
- Back heel stays on ground – do not lift
- Back knee straight
- Make an arch – Roll that back foot to the outside edge slightly to stop foot collapsing but keep hips centered
Don’t bounce, just hold.
30 seconds per stretch
3 x per leg
3 x per day
Enjoy the City to Surf and stay fit. Oh, and have a dip in the ocean – the icy water is good for recovery!
Written by Karl Lockett