Chronic Knee Pain In The Runner

by Podiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Ross, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S.

At one point or another, runners eventually ask the question, “Will all that running eventually hurt my knees and cause arthritis so I’ll never be able to run again?”

The answer is usually no!

When knee pain is ignored, permanent, even crippling damage may occur. By seeking early expert advice and following corrective measures, however, knee pain can often be eliminated without continuous injury.

Proper biomechanical evaluation of the knee, lower extremity and foot can draw attention to the underlying cause of a knee problem. Overuse training, running on unrelenting road surfaces and wearing improper or worn-out shoes are a few possible contributing factors.

Continue Reading »

Injuries Common To The Female Runner

by Dr. Jeffrey Ross, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S.

The bad news for the female runner is that she is more likely than her male counterpart to suffer certain types of injuries. The good news is that, with proper education and the right tips on injury prevention, she can minimize such injuries or eliminate them altogether.

As a sports medicine podiatrist who treats a large number of female patients, I am often asked why women experience so many mal-alignment and overuse injuries. The answer lies in the female’s physical development anatomy. When the female enters puberty and her hips broaden relative to her waist and shoulders, her pelvis begins to widen and a change at the hip occurs. This creates an accompanying change of the knees, often referred to as “knock knees”. The more “knock”, the greater the quadriceps pull. As a result, sports medicine doctors see many overuse injuries affecting the hip, knee, shin and ankle of the female runner.

I have identified five injuries common to the female runner – scoliosis, foot type and deformities, Achilles tendonitis, knee injuries and stress fractures – and suggested how to deal with them.

Continue Reading »

Running On Different Surfaces

by Dr. Jeffrey Ross, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S.

Ever wonder why so many people run in the parks, on dirt trails where it’s nice and soft, rather than that hard concrete we punish ourselves on during marathons? The answer is very simple: natural trail surfaces “give”; concrete does not.

As we all know too well, the legs, knees, and feet of a runner take on the full extent of impact trauma, shock absorption, and friction. Under ideal conditions, therefore, we look for surfaces that will absorb shock to the lower extremities while simultaneously providing energy return to the foot in a continued motion.

There are quite a number of surfaces one can run on artificial snow, asphalt, bark, carpet, cinders, clay, concrete, dirt, grass, hard synthetics, rock, sand, snow, and wood. In a report featured in 1983 in Athletic Purchasing and Facilities, John Sprague described 106 synthetic surfaces for sports.

At one point, you may have run on a majority of these surfaces. Which one did you like the best, and which surface gave you the best without injury? Which surface has the best efficiency, and yet lowers the risk for repeated trauma to legs, knees, and feet?

One frequently asked question is, “Should we run on a natural surface or a synthetic surface?”

Continue Reading »

Cross-Training for Runners

by Dr. Jeffrey Ross, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S.

When cross-training comes to mind, what types of exercise or equipment do you think about? Swimming or aqua running, exercise bikes and “spinning”, treadmills and elevated speed walking, stair steppers, and now the latest craze, the elliptical trainers, are all possibilities. How many have you tried? Do you even know what they are? You may have seen a variety of designs on television, and if you belong to a health club, then you’ve probably seen them.

I discovered them about a year ago when I went to my health club’s exercise and weight room after a run. I was looking for an alternative to the stair stepper, which I felt put stress on my knees, Achilles tendons, and the balls of my feet. I saw this interesting machine called the “elliptical trainer.” It looked pretty simple, and the pedals were fairly large to stand on. As I watched others exercising on the machine, I noticed that their feet and legs never experienced any impact. That immediately got my curiosity going! I also saw that the movement on the machine was similar to running or climbing. I’m a runner who also likes to cross-country ski, but this seemed to be easier than both. All of the participants appeared to be working up a good sweat, and they were all either watching television or reading the newspaper. I liked that just as much.

Continue Reading »