Don't Forget Your Feet When Training For Bloomsday

By Robert Siclair, PT, MDT 

With Bloomsday just three months away and many other local runs coming up this Spring and Summer, it’s time to start thinking about preparation. If you haven’t started training already, then now is the time. Even though the recent weather has made it hard to get outside, there are some inside alternative training options you can do.  

Oftentimes you hear common training recommendations when preparing for a race such as don’t increase your distance more than 10% a week. But something you don’t hear much about is the value of strength training to improve running performance and injury prevention. With annual running-related injury incidence as high as 80% in long-distance runners, you might want to add strength training to your routine if you haven’t already. And now with snow and ice outside, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of strength training.

Strength training for runners

A study published in November by The American Journal of Sports Medicine, compared two groups of runners. The first group continued with their normal running program, the second group also performed foot strengthening exercises three times a week. The group performing the foot strengthening exercises had over a 50% reduction in injuries over the next year. The study recommended 4-8 months of training for optimal protection. None of the intervention groups suffered a bone stress injury and there were a variety of shoe types used in both groups with no difference in overall shoe structure between the two. All of the participants were experienced recreational runners, but similar results would be expected with novice runners.

With the help of this study, it is proven that increased foot and ankle strength helps dissipate load by providing a dampening effect with landing and a spring effect with takeoff. Since the study group consisted of all experienced runners, it is unlikely that running alone is enough to provide sufficient strengthening. The improvement was not just in the foot and ankle but also shown to improve knee and hip injuries as well. Below are a few exercises used in the study.

If you want to learn more details about the program, would like an analysis of your running, or need to rehabilitate an injury, please contact us at our North Division Physical Therapy clinic at 509-789-2836 or South Hill Physical Therapy Clinic at 509-344-2663.

Learn more about NWOS Physical Therapy




Foot and Ankle Exercises for Increased Strength and Flexibility

Toe Lift

Can do sitting or standing. Foot flat on the floor. First, try to lift your big toe by itself and lower it slowly. 3 sets of 10-20 reps. Then switch to keep your big toe down and try to lift the other 4 toes up. Lower slowly. 3 sets of 10 reps.

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Toe Press

Place an elastic band around the end of your foot and toes. Point your foot and curl your toes against the band. Resist slowly on way back. Repeat for 3 sets of 10-15 reps. 

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Toe Curl

Place a small towel on the floor then place your foot towards the end. Use your toes to scrunch the towel trying to pull it towards you. Keep your heel on the floor. Repeat 3 times.

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Heel Raise

Stand at a counter for balance. Raise up on your toes and lower slowly. Repeat 10-20 times or until you feel fatigue. When you get to 3 sets of 20, try doing it on one leg but you will likely do less reps to start.

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Tags: Bloomsday, Running, Staying Active, Strength Training, Injury Prevention, Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation, Sports Medicine.