The Marathon Prep: Why Runners Can’t Skip the Podiatrist Visit

lower half of people in running motion.

Australia has quite the running community.

Every major city and lots of smaller towns around the country have running clubs which means all over the country there are hotspots for marathons and long-distance races.

Events like the Gold Coast Marathon and the Great Ocean Road Running Festival attract both amateur enthusiasts and elite runners.

Yet, as exhilarating as the act of running can be, it’s crucial for participants to understand the strains it places on the feet and lower limbs.

With this in mind, let’s delve into why regular visits to a podiatrist are essential before embarking on marathon journeys.

Australia’s Marathon Spirit

Running is more than just an exercise; for many Aussies, it’s a passion, a discipline, and sometimes, a way of life.

Our country’s unique terrains, ranging from sandy beaches to rugged trails, not only test a runner’s endurance but also their foot and lower limb biomechanics.

Given the increasing participation rates in events and the diversity of running goals, from getting off the couch to do a 5K to breaking a personal best, it’s vital to ensure the foot’s health is given priority.

Common Running Injuries

Running, although a natural and beneficial exercise, can sometimes lead to various injuries.

The consistent impact and repetitive nature of the motion can place immense strain on the body, especially the lower limbs. Understanding the common injuries and their origins can help in prevention and treatment.

Here’s a breakdown of the most common foot injury runners experience:

diagram of achilles injury.

Plantar Fasciitis:

  • Origin: Inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes.
  • Symptoms: Heel pain, especially upon waking up or after prolonged periods of standing.
  • Causes: Overpronation, high arches, prolonged standing, and improper footwear.

Shin Splints:

  • Origin: Pain along the shinbone (tibia).
  • Symptoms: Tenderness, soreness, or swelling in the lower leg.
  • Causes: Sudden increase in activity, running on uneven surfaces, improper shoes, and weak ankles or hips.

Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome):

  • Origin: Misalignment of the kneecap.
  • Symptoms: Pain around the kneecap, especially when going up or down stairs, kneeling, or squatting.
  • Causes: Muscle imbalances, direct trauma to the kneecap, and overuse.

Stress Fractures:

  • Origin: Tiny cracks in a bone.
  • Symptoms: Pain that increases with activity and decreases with rest.
  • Causes: Overtraining, inadequate footwear, and running on hard surfaces.

Achilles Tendinitis:

  • Origin: Inflammation of the Achilles tendon.
  • Symptoms: Pain and stiffness along the Achilles tendon or back of the heel.
  • Causes: Overuse, tight calf muscles, and rapid increase in intensity or duration of training.

Understanding these injuries, their causes, and symptoms can help runners seek timely intervention and avoid exacerbating them. Regular visits to a podiatrist can further aid in identifying potential risks and offering preventive strategies.

The Vital Role of the Podiatrist for Runners

Visiting a podiatrist, especially one specialising in podiatry for runners, can make a world of difference. With a detailed assessment, which might include running analysis and even video analysis, they provide insights into one’s running technique. They can pinpoint potential issues with lower limb biomechanics, recommend orthotic inserts for improved support, and even advise on the best exercise shoes suited to individual needs.

Whether you’re a new runner or someone with a long running history, a podiatrist’s expertise ensures that your feet are in optimal condition. They understand the relationship between footwear, foot type, and running style. By recommending the right shoe or addressing any anomalies in the foot’s arch or ankle movement, they play a pivotal role in preventing injury.

biomechanical assessment screen.

Pre-Marathon Check-ups: More Than Just Footwear

It’s not just about the shoes. Although the importance of running shoes and exercise shoes can’t be understated, a podiatrist’s role goes beyond that. They provide tailored programs that emphasize stretching specific muscles, recommend rest periods to ensure recovery, and offer treatment options for existing foot pain or running related injuries.

Moreover, they can offer insights into the mental health aspects of running, understanding the psychological strain that can accompany physical injuries. They realise that for an elite runner, being side-lined isn’t just about the body’s pain, but also the mental anguish of missing out on training or an event.

The Marathon Advantage with a Podiatrist

Imagine preparing for your next run, knowing that your feet are in the best possible shape. You’ve been advised on the best running techniques, you’re wearing the ideal shoes for your foot type, and any lurking issues have been addressed. The confidence that comes from this preparation not only boosts performance but ensures that the focus remains on the joy of running and not on potential foot pain.

For anyone targeting the marathon distance, the body undergoes considerable stress. The repetitive impact on the feet, combined with the body’s wear and tear over 42 kilometers, demands meticulous preparation. Podiatrists offer that edge, ensuring runners are equipped both physically and mentally for the challenge.

Watsonia Podiatry Takes Care of Runners

Australia’s running culture is a testament to the nation’s love for the sport. But, as with all passions, it demands respect and care. Regular visits to a podiatrist, especially in the lead-up to a marathon, ensure that runners can give their best performance, free from the shadow of foot injuries and pain. After all, the journey of a marathon starts with the feet, and they deserve the best possible care. Book in to see our specialist podiatrists here at Watsonia Podiatry in Melbourne – whether you’re a runner or not, we’re here to take care of your feet.


Aaron Dri

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