Whether you’re training for your very first marathon or preparing for your tenth, it’s important to begin your training program on the right foot. A lack of experience coupled with the repetitive impact placed on the feet and ankles during a long run can produce enough stress to cause hairline fractures and other debilitating foot injuries.
Many foot problems seen in marathoners are caused by the repetitive pounding over the months of long-distance running. In some people injury is triggered by the abnormal foot biomechanics and in others it is because of poor training. During a 10-mile run, the feet make about 15,000 strikes, at a force of three to four times the body's weight. Even if you have perfect foot mechanics, injuries and pain are often unavoidable with this amount of stress.
To prevent injury during training, it’s important to pay close attention to your feet. When increasing mileage, avoid doing so too quickly. The increased forced can make your feet more susceptible to stress fractures.
Basic tips for training include:
- Follow a training schedule that is appropriate for your experience level
- Start easy and increase your mileage slowly
- Stretch and warm up properly to reduce strain on muscles, tendons and joints
- Choose appropriate footwear based on your foot structure, function, body type, running environment and training regimen
- Never ignore pain. If the pain gets worse with reduced exercise and rest, stop training and visit your podiatrist
Aside from stress fractures which often occur from overtraining, additional foot problems you may experience include:
- Toenail problems, including ingrown and fungus
- Heel pain, such as plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendon and calf pain
- Toe pain, such as bunions
- Shin splints
Before you start training, Daniel Methuselah, DPM recommends visiting a podiatrist for a complete evaluation of your lower extremities. Our Irmo office will examine your feet and identify potential problems, discuss training tactics, prescribe an orthotic device that fits into a running shoe (if needed), and recommend the best style of footwear for your feet to allow for injury free training all the way up to your race day. It is especially important to come in for an exam if you have already started training and are experiencing foot or ankle pain.
Training for a marathon is hard work. It takes time and dedication. At Daniel Methuselah, DPM, we offer special interest and expertise working with marathoners to ensure good foot health throughout your entire training program to help you achieve your goals.