Healthy Runners' Series Part 1 of 3 - Feet and Ankles

This post is part one of a three-part mini series we are writing this spring about issues pertaining to runners and common complaints we see in the office from our clients who are runners themselves. With summer just around the corner many of us are returning to our exercise routines -  which for some means dusting off the old sneakers and hitting the pavement or treadmill. We’ve written about the drawbacks and potential benefits of running before on the blog, and now we want to give our readers an insider’s perspective into the common issues that stop some runners in their tracks and what you can do to support your body as a runner.

If you are struggling with pain or an injury related to running - we can help resolve your pain for good. Call 347-841-6076 or get in touch at karmachiropractic.com to schedule your FREE phone consultation today!

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If you love running and/or jogging - be it on trails, treadmills or sidewalks, you probably realize that you’re in for some foot and ankle pain at some point. All athletes push their bodies beyond their present limits -  and while this can make us bigger, stronger, faster and fitter in the short term, we need to actively support the body’s healing and recovery processes in order to 1) get the best results possible, and 2) to ensure that our results are sustainable in the long term.

Most runners rely on a combo of stretching, ice, and lots of ibuprofen to manage the intermittent pain inevitable in restarting or ramping up a running routine. What most people don’t realize is that ignoring the pain or masking it with temporary fixes like painkillers and massage sets up the body for a more acute injury down the road.

To add another layer of complexity to the story, because of the Kinetic Chain of the lower body, the way a runner’s foot hits the ground impacts not only the ankle joint and connective tissues - it reverberates all the way up to the knees, hips and back. So if your ankle is not properly managing the load you place upon it, you risk not only injuring the ankle but other parts of your lower body as well.  

Without a proper understanding of how running is impacting your body, you could literally be running into an injury that could land you back on the couch for weeks, months or even years. This could affect your ability not only to run and engage in athletic activity, but also to complete day to day tasks like walking, sitting comfortably or using the stairs with ease.

In order to ensure that your running routine isn't doing you more harm than good, you need to know whether your feet and ankles are functioning properly. Diagnosing the health and flexibility of the tissues of the ankle is the first step to determining your specific risks. Testing the ankles' range of motion is the easiest way to achieve this. 

A healthy ankle will move easily and without pain through a full range of motion in order to properly support you when running or jogging. Here is a simple test you can use to check the health and flexibility of your ankle joints:

Is My Ankle Healthy? Quick Self-Test

  1. Stand facing any door or wall, placing one foot 5 inches from the wall with the other slightly behind.

  2. Keeping the heel of the foot on the ground, flex the ankle, bending the knee toward the wall in front of you. You can outstretch your hands or use the wall for balance, if needed.

  3. You PASS if you can touch the knee to the wall in front of the flexed ankle with just a relatively easy stretching sensation through the calf.

  4. You FAIL if your heel wants to come off the ground, or if you experience pain and difficulty while performing.

  5. Repeat on the other side to compare results. 

 This is a Passing test - the knee easily touches the wall in front of the foot at 5 inches from the wall. 

This is a Passing test - the knee easily touches the wall in front of the foot at 5 inches from the wall. 

 This is a FAILING test - the knee can only touch the wall at 2 inches distance.

This is a FAILING test - the knee can only touch the wall at 2 inches distance.

 This is a FAILING test - the knee is unable to touch the wall due to lack of mobility. 

This is a FAILING test - the knee is unable to touch the wall due to lack of mobility. 

 This is a FAILING test - the heel peels off the floor when the knee touches the wall. 

This is a FAILING test - the heel peels off the floor when the knee touches the wall. 

If you fail this test, there is a high likelihood that you are suffering from a buildup of myofascial adhesion or tissue degeneration in the foot and/or ankle. If left untreated this will eventually prevent you from running without pain, and potentially from simply going through your day-to-day life with ease. 

At Karma Chiropractic, Dr. Mike is an expert at finding and fixing adhesion and helping clients return to their activities of choice pain-free. Contact our office today to schedule your free phone consultation and take the first step toward solving your pain, for good.