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Can Foot Form Affect Running Injuries?

Research indicates that more than half of all runners, regardless of age, gender, or ability level, become injured every year. Over the years, researchers have suggested many theories to explain why, from the hard asphalt roads to unhealthy diets, overtraining, high-tech running shoes, and poor training schedules. Now, however, a study conducted by a Harvard research team suggests that an individual’s running form can affect his or her chances of sustaining an injury.

Most runners strike the ground first with their heels, but form depends on many factors including speed, terrain, and energy level. Recent research has indicated that a form of running in which you strike the ground first with the ball of your foot, or your forefoot, as opposed to your heel, may give you a lower injury risk, but the doctors at Southern California Orthopedic Institute say it’s no reason to make a quick switch in your running form.

"If you’re not getting hurt, there’s no reason to try to change your running form," explains Dr. Richard D. Ferkel, foot and ankle surgeon at Southern California Orthopedic Institute. "However, if you’ve sustained several injuries, reshaping your stride could help cut down on your chances of suffering a future injury, but it’s important to start slow when doing so."

Dr. Ferkel says switching abruptly to a barefoot or forefoot running form can cause additional injuries, as the tissues in your feet must readjust and muscles throughout your legs must adapt to the new style. It’s important to consult your doctor before making a significant change in your form to avoid further injury.

If you have questions about how you can avoid injury while running, contact the foot and ankle doctors at Southern California Orthopedic Institute by calling (877) 933-3387.

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