Why Every Runner Needs to See a Podiatrist
by Jon Vredenburg
Running is an activity that requires very little specialized equipment. Basically, a sense of direction and appropriate footwear are all that is needed to get started. However, if you really want to put your best foot forward (pun completely intended) you should also consider visiting with a podiatrist.
Podiatrists are indispensable medical professionals for helping you understand how the unique anatomy of your feet impacts your overall running performance. They keep up to date with the technological and medical advances in foot care to ensure you are not jeopardizing your feet with fads that have little scientific basis. “All of these things can make you last longer or improve your success when you are out running,” states Dr. Andrew Bartell.
Many of the injuries that occur during running are the result of improperly fitted shoes and a podiatrist can explain what type of shoe, or orthotic insert, is best for you. Orthotics may be needed to correct imbalances in the foot while running. When your arch, heels and toes are properly supported you can run faster with greater overall comfort. A corrective alignment will leave you less tired and in less pain following your longer runs too.
A podiatrist will also examine the degree of pronation in your foot. Pronation refers to the degree of inward movement of the foot as it absorbs the impact of the ground during a run. Supination would be on the opposite end of the spectrum as it means there is minimal inward roll of the foot during running. Since pronation is critical for shock absorption during running, issues with underpronation (i.e. supination) and overpronation should be professionally evaluated to avoid injuries that can leave you indefinitely sidelined. If this degree of foot geometry sounds confusing, then consider that another reason to visit a podiatrist. “If you have a supinating foot and wearing a pronating shoe, or vice versa, it can create huge issues,” states Dr. Bartell.
It is also important to see a podiatrist that can relate to your activity and understand the challenges that runners can face each day. “You need to make sure you are seeing somebody that actually does the activities,” states Dr. Bartell. “You go to a practice like ours that has podiatrists who are young and active and we actually do these things – it makes all of the difference in the world.”
For additional information about podiatry, visit North Florida Foot and Ankle Center of Jacksonville’s website, nffac.com, or call 904-236-5023 to schedule an appointment.