Yes, it’s a thing. And yes, I made the name up, but that was the best I could come up with on a Monday morning with only one coffee in me. What is COVID footitis? Let me elaborate a little.
It’s the time of year again when hordes of people (Millions to be exact) are once again locked down to protect each other from the pandemic. Many of us will be staying home and so we will turn to exercise for our sanity. This will see most of us dust off training shoes and hit the streets as we chase a bit of fitness, fresh air and sanity from home life. With the lockdown now entering the 3rd week and not looking likely to be cut short, now is the time to ensure you’re prepared.
Research tells us that up to 79% of runners will suffer an injury at some stage, and almost 50% of all runners reporting a running injury in the last 12 months will be questioning whether all the hard work is worth it and if they should just stay in and binge watch Netflix, or work from home.
There comes a point when training (even if it’s just for fitness or recreation) loads can become too much for your body and your feet, and it’s at that point where injuries are likely to be more prevalent. Some runners get frustrated or angry because they are unable to do the training loads required to meet their fitness goal.
Whether you plan on training for a marathon or simply running a few kilometres each week, training methods will vary considerably because of the different demands placed on the body.
Here at Sutherland Podiatry Centre, we are seeing an increasing number of people who have had little injuries transform into much bigger and more significant injuries simply because of inadequate preparation to handle the training load and force changes placed on their bodies.
This brings most runners to somewhat of a mental conundrum. On one hand you think, “Do I just give up on the training and turn around and go home?” or “Do I keep training and risk not being able to train the week after?”
You might be like Gillian who has been doing great work with her long distance training regularly running 15-20km with no issues. When she was asked to work from home she was concerned she would become unmotivated and unfit so decided to keep up her running and see if she could improve her time.
While thrilled with the fact she knocked off a few minutes here and there, she started getting niggling pain with her long distance training, and was perhaps more than a little guilty of neglecting the warning signs her body was giving her to slow down and that her training load too much for her body to handle.
The Good News?
For Gillian, our assessment revealed that while her body was fit for training runs, it was becoming less able to cope with changes in activities or running habits. This was leaving her exposed to injuries when running shorter or faster distances. However, like Gillian, there are some simple things anyone can do to increase capacity and reduce the likelihood of injury when training.
Handy Training Tips
Try these tips to improve your body’s ability to handle changes in activity and increases in training load:
- If you have a niggling pain or ache that annoys you on a typical training run, try breaking up your training sessions with a trail run or grass run (and vice versa).
- Instead of trying to run a huge distance in one go, try breaking it down and doing it in 3 runs – you will still get the mileage, and protect your body at the same time.
- Running drills under the supervision of your podiatrist can help to retrain your body to work more efficiently.
- Make sure you have the right shoes well before the event – use a pair of “faithfuls”, but not a pair that’s “Dead”. Far too often we see joggers that are only fit for the bin being used to churn through 50-60km per week. No wonder you’re in pain!
Useful Training Exercises
These easy exercises can help improve your overall capacity:
- Rolling your feet over a tennis ball
- Foam rolling your legs
- Massage and Epsom salt recovery baths for muscle tension
- Ball massage to bottom of foot
And of course, if you have any concerns that are out of the ordinary, please speak to your podiatrist. So hopefully some of the advice here will help you avoid the dreaded COVID footitis, and remember that looking after your body through the daily grind means it will hopefully reward you at the end.
Speak again soon,