Leveling With Flat Feet

in Feet
It's no surprise so many running injuries are foot-related. They're the first part of your body to absorb the shock of running.

Flat feet don't necessarily preclude you from running. But they can cause you some trouble if you're not careful. People with flat feet are more prone to injury than other runners. Understanding your feet and wearing proper running shoes can help you with your jogging.

How can you tell if you have a genuinely flat foot?

Try taking the Wet Test. Wet your feet and then stand on a flat, dry surface that will leave an imprint of your foot. When you look at the imprint, you should find that you have one of the following foot types.

The flat foot

Description: Flat feet have a low arch and leave a nearly complete imprint; there's little inward curve where the arch should be.

Foot characteristics: This imprint usually indicates an overpronated foot that strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls inward excessively. Over time, this can cause many different kinds of overuse injuries. Runners with flat feet often need motion-control or stability running shoes.

The normal foot

Description: Normal feet have a normal-sized arch and leave an imprint that has a flare but shows the forefoot and heel connected by a wide band.

Foot characteristics: A normal foot lands on the outside of the heel, then rolls inward (pronates) slightly to absorb shock. Runners with a normal foot and normal weight are usually considered biomechanically efficient and don't require motion-control running shoes.

The high-arched foot

Description: High-arched feet leave an imprint showing a very narrow band connecting the forefoot and heel.

Foot characteristics: A curved, high-arched foot is generally termed a supinated or underpronated foot. This type of foot usually doesn't pronate enough, so it's not an effective shock absorber. Runners with high-arched feet often need running shoes with superior cushioning.

Arch types

Fortunately, genuine flat feet are actually quite rare. Most runners who think they have flat feet usually just have very low arches. The good news is that having low-arched feet is not necessarily a handicap, either.

About one-third of the populace have flat feet or low-arched feet, one-third have normal-arched feet, and one-third have high-arched feet. Given a choice between low and high arches, though, low-arched feet are better. Low arches are more flexible; rigid, high arches are more likely to produce muscle strains and pulls. Low-arched feet also absorb the shock of running better than high-arched feet, simply because more of the foot spreads across the ground. Low arches make for a stronger foot.

The possibility of injury

Many running injuries begin with the feet no surprise, since they are the first part of your body to absorb running's shock.

Running on true flat feet is akin to running on Jell-O. Flat feet tend to overpronate. This often causes the legs to collapse inward with each footfall. Left unchecked, this can lead to overuse injuries ranging from shin splints to aches and pains in the ankles, knees, hips and lower back.

Preventing injury

Low arch or no arch, there are certain precautions you can take to lessen the risk of injury:

Buy appropriate running shoes (this alone can help keep you injury-free). The best running shoes for flat-footed runners are motion-control or stability shoes with firm midsoles and features such as a medial post to reduce pronation. Do not wear running shoes with lots of cushioning and little support; this allows too much pronation.

Avoid uneven running surfaces. Golf courses and trails may sound soothing to aching ankles and knees, but uneven ground can accentuate your pronation problem and make matters worse.
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Leveling With Flat Feet

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This article was published on 2007/10/08