Physical therapists provide tips to runners for minimizing risk of injury.
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Alexandria, VA, April 21, 2010 — Each day millions of Americans run for fun, sport, and fitness. While running is a great form of physical activity, it can be hard on the lower extremities, especially the feet. During April's Foot Health Awareness Month, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is educating runners about the importance of proper foot health and a physical therapist's role in preventing and treating foot injuries that may result from running.
The impact forces during running can be 2-3 times one's bodyweight, making the feet particularly vulnerable to injury. Healthy feet are a runner's best friend and understanding a running injury is a key to effective treatment. As experts in restoring and improving motion in people's lives, physical therapists can provide an examination of a runner's feet and an analysis of individual running mechanics to determine the cause of pain. Tests also may include an analysis of, strength, range of motion, sensation, and circulation.
"Once a cause is determined, a physical therapist will design an individualized course of treatment to address the cause of the problem. This treatment plan may include exercises for flexibility, stability, balance, strength, and joint range of motion," said APTA spokesperson Christopher Powers, PT, PhD.
Often, improper footwear can contribute to the problem. In these cases, a physical therapist may recommend specific types of shoes based on the individual needs of a runner. For example, runners with stiff feet and high arches may need more cushion in their shoes, while those with very flexible feet and low arches usually need a stiffer shoe with more support and control. For individuals with more complex problems, physical therapists may prescribe custom or over-the-counter orthotics.
Physical therapists also play an important role in helping runners prevent injuries. APTA suggests the following tips for all runners:
- Start slowly and build up slowly - both distance and speed.
- Address pain and discomfort as soon as it appears - with ice, rest, or by modifying your training program. Ignoring symptoms is a sure way to develop a chronic problem.
- Choose your running surface carefully. Hard surfaces, uneven terrain, and too many hills can lead to problems. Again, build up to them slowly if these surfaces are part of your goal.
- Consider other types of endurance exercises to give your feet a rest and to provide a better balance to your fitness routine.
- Keep an eye on skin issues such as redness or blisters.
- Seek evaluation and treatment from a physical therapist to get back on the right track. Your feet will thank you!
Physical therapists are experts in restoring and improving motion in people's lives. In many cases, they can treat pain without surgery and reduce the need for long term use of medications and their side effects. For more information on how physical therapists help runners keep their feet healthy and avoid serious problems please visit www.moveforwardpt.com.
In most states, you can access a physical therapist directly. To find one in your area please visit www.moveforwardpt.com/findapt.
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 74,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at www.moveforwardpt.com. Consumers are encouraged to follow us on Twitter (@moveforwardpt) and Facebook.