I spend the majority of my day finding the flaw in people’s feet that explains why they are suffering from pain and deformity. Usually it is this flaw that I can attribute to causing a problem with muscles, making them fatigue early. The question always arises in the back of my mind, do people without the flaw in their foot also get muscle fatigue. A recent study in the Journal of Podiatric Medicine answered this question.
The Effect of Moderate Running on Foot Posture Index and Plantar Pressure Distribution in Male Recreational Runners, took 30 men who run for exercise on a regular basis. They examined the foot for flaws and excluded anyone who had a problem. These men ran at 3.3 m/sec (7.3 mph) for 60 minutes. The measurements reveal that all subjects suffered muscle fatigue leading to pronation while running. This evil word “pronation” is the root of many problems in the foot. The interesting part of this study is that even people who began the study with “very supinated” foot posture (that is the complete opposite of pronation) ended the run in a pronated foot posture. This change altered the pressure on the ball of the foot and inside of the heel most. This could explain pain in many people who run.
But what about runners who don’t have pain? In a study of ultramarathon runners, Karagounis found the same changes in foot posture and pressure, but these changes resolved within 24 hours. The take home message is that if your feet hurt when you run and the pain doesn’t go away in the first day after the run, you need help. This could be as simple as adding support by orthoses or arch supports. The risk of not getting help…stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis.
Escamilla-Martinez E, Martinez-Nova A, Gomez-Martin B, et al: The Effect of Moderate Running on Foot Posture Index and Plantar Pressure Distribution in Male Recreational Runners, JAPMA 103(2): 121-125, March/April 2013
Karagounis P, Prionas G, et al: The Impact of the Spartathlon ultramarathon race on athlete’s plantar pressure patterns. Foot Ankle Spec 2: 173, 2009.