Friday, December 21, 2012

Chi Running - Strengthen Your Feet

Roll the sole of your foot over a golf ball
to help strengthen your feet
Every time I've had foot pain after a long run, I've thought about telling my doctor about it, but haven’t done it because I was sure he’d tell me not to run.  I finally told him about it at my annual physical on Tuesday.  He poked and prodded, and told me he suspected a hairline fracture of the big toe at the point where it reaches the arch of the foot.

A bit of history – the fracture he suspected is called a “march fracture” because soldiers would often get fractures in the same spot after long days of marching.

I had the foot X-rayed on Wednesday, and got the results back on Thursday.  The x-ray was normal!  Big sigh of relief.  But – the doctor still wants me to stop running for a few weeks.  Nooooooooooooooooo!  He recommends non-weight-bearing exercise for the non-running period.

Sigh.  I guess it’s swimming, stationary bikes, and some serious foot-strengthening for the next couple of weeks.  Danny and Katherine Dreyer, authors of Chi Running, recognize just how important the feet are to running and recognize the need to keep your feet both strong and flexible (not to mention relaxed) while running.  They have devoted a section in their Injury Prevention and Recovery chapter to exercises focused on stretching and strengthening your feet. 

Runner’s World Magazine agrees.  Kelly Bastone states in a July 11, 2012 article, “Runners' mighty quads and glutes reach long-mileage readiness well ahead of the smaller muscles in the feet and ankles. Yet this supporting cast plays a key role in achieving peak endurance.”  And while the Runner’s World article seems to assume that runners are pushing off with their feet (explicitly contraindicated in the Chi Running technique), it goes on to affirm that “[strengthening the feet] develops the muscle control you need to prevent overuse injuries from high-mileage workouts."

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