Did you know that foot related injuries are the second most common running injuries, next only to knee injuries? If we just take the amateur runner population, foot injuries are the topmost running-related injuries.
Most runners do understand the fact that building core strength, apart from working on mobility is the best way to prevent injuries. What is surprising however is the lack of focus on the foot strength. At run mechanics, we see many runners with weak foot mechanics. These are often manifested in running form as
As the foot touches the ground when we land, the foot lands on the outside and loosens up at mid-stance as the foot touches the ground fully and stabilizes itself. This process is called ‘pronation’ and happens with every runner. However, for runners with weak foot core or foot arches, eversion angles are higher than normal, which is called over pronation.
Over Pronation is correlated with a higher occurrence of foot injuries such as Achilles Tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis.
If you want to read more about over pronation, you can check this article: What happens to our feet when we run?!
It is expected that the toes are straight and neutral when landing. But it is common to see their toes turned outwards (duck feet) or inwards when landing. There could be many reasons for this but is often caused by less than ideal foot mechanics such as overpronation, limited ankle dorsiflexion, and imbalance in strength between hip adductors and abductors. Excessive Toe-out/in can cause injuries at the ankle and knee.
As you can see in the second frame in the picture below, the right foot has excessive tow-out is turned outwards. The first frame on the left is neutral and shows no toe out.
When it comes to the issues of foot mechanics, most take the route of using of stability/pronation control shoes and orthotic sole inserts. However, these methods don’t fix the mechanics, but only add compensations. Often such an approach can cause issues elsewhere. For example, fixing the overpronation with the use of stability shoes can cause injuries further up the chain at the knee or hips.
In this post, we recommend a longer-term approach to improve foot mechanics, i.e Foot Core Strengthening.
Though our feet seem simple, they have a very unique structure. Each foot has 3 arches (later, medial and transverse), 26 bones, 33 joints, and numerous muscles, tendons, and ligaments. All of these work together, and further work with other muscles such as the Soleus. The interplay of all these is what make up the foot core.
Just like how our body core provides the base for force production, movement, and stability while running, the foot core allows us to take up to 3-5 times our body weight for every step we take. The foot core is also a lever to help us transition as we push off from the ground.
Foot core strengthening primarily involves training the ability to strongly control the stability of the arch, metatarsals, and toes while standing, as well as while running. We recommend the following workouts as part of your foot core routine to improve your foot core strength. Click on the links to see the detailed instructions.
Apart from helping strengthen calf muscles, this workout strengthens posterior tibialis (one of the muscles. Posterior Tibialis plays an important role in controlling the foot arch, hence calf-raises are a good drill to build a strong foot arch and control the pronation and foot stability.
Jay Dicharry, a biomechanical expert, believes the big toe is responsible for 80-85% of the stability of the foot. The ability to control the big toe independently from the rest of the foot (arch & ankle) is key to maintaining foot stability. Toe Yoga is a workout to build this control.
Foot Doming / Arch Domes / Short Foot is a proven workout to build a strong foot arch, which is a common cause of overpronation.
Courtesy: Team Run Mechanics. This article was first published on runmechanics.in
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