For the past few months, I’ve been getting back into the habit of running. Mostly for my dad who, after doing a 15k with me and my brother, would like to do a half marathon together as well. I’ve never been much of a runner and frankly, I’ve always hated it, but for my family — of course!
During and after my runs I’ve experienced periodic foot pain, so I’ve been experimenting with run schedules, running surfaces, shoes, shoe fittings, shoe lacing, etc. Unable to figure anything out on my own, I finally made an appointment to see a podiatrist.
I got bad news, but it was a very informative appointment. After she asked about my injury history, checked out my stance and walk, and x-rayed my feet and ankles, here’s what I learned:
- I have hypermobile joints. People have always pointed out that I’m weirdly flexible — not in a manner that’s useful of course; only in bizarre, pointless ways that elicit reactions like “EW how are your arms/wrists/whatever bent like that?!” So, this was an official diagnosis of what I already knew.
- I have extremely unstable ankles, thanks largely to my past injuries and the aforementioned hyperflexibility.
- Inherently flexible individuals are highly accident and injury-prone, and have a tough time becoming rigid. It’s all coming together…
- Due to my foot shape (furthest right on this image), certain areas of my foot bear the brunt of the impact when I run.
- When standing, my feet are very flat, which can be problematic for running.
- I have a bipartite medial sesamoid in one foot.
- If my ankles continue to worsen, surgery is an option — down the road.
My podiatrist’s conclusion: I’m simply not built for running, and I shouldn’t run at all.* I should instead focus on low-impact, strengthening activities like yoga, barre, and pilates. I should also wear ankle braces, boots, or high tops at all times to support my ankles.
Huge bummer. But I’m glad I have a better understanding of my body and how I can prevent further (or permanent!) injury.
*I asked what my options are if I insisted on running: custom orthotics and specific shoes.
Update: I saw an orthopedic surgeon for a second opinion. He also concluded that I shouldn’t be running… but for completely different reasons. 🤔
8 thoughts on “TIL: From My Podiatrist”
I tried barre once and thought I was going to die. For about a week afterwards, I was in some pretty serious pain from it – so if you want something that’s super intense, barre is the way to go. Otherwise I suggest choosing life.
Thanks Zandy! I tried a ridiculous hipster (barf), “sexy” (double barf) version of barre a couple of years ago because they had a crazy promotion for your first month. It was intensely painful like you said, but I kind of dug it! Also, I think the exceptional annoyance and pain I’ve endured during running (did I mention how much I hate it? 😉 ) makes everything seem lovely in comparison.
There was something appealing about barre, I’ll admit that. I’m just SO out of shape. I think I needed a gentle beginner’s class where you can just weep for awhile or something.
A designated weeping corner at the least. It would be appreciated.
When I was in PT for my shoulder, I had the therapist watch we jog, and he basically told me “don’t run.” Just my gait and the way I’m built, so I understand how much of a bummer that is. I’ve found the elliptical to be the closet I can get to jogging without knee or ankle issues. I hope you find something comparable you enjoy :-)
Thanks Paul! Using the elliptical seems like a good alternative.
I miss running! I always thought that I just wasn’t built for running (flat feet, general lack of coordination), but figured out a few years ago that it actually *was* possible, but only by slowing way down (12-13 min/mile in training, 10.5-11 during a race) and being really mindful of my gait (remembering to swing my hips properly, looking down at my feet to make sure they’re pointing straight forward, holding my back straight, etc). It started to feel really good, except then I took most of a year off, then ran Bay to Breakers last year on next to no training, and since then my back has been super flaky, *especially* after a run. Slowly slowly slowly trying to get back into it though.
Is there any exercise available to strengthen your ankles without further injuring them? I’m sure there must be something I can do for my back, but haven’t hit on it yet…
I think the exercises she recommended (barre, pilates, yoga) would all strengthen my ankles. Did you have foot pain, and did you find that being mindful of your gait prevented that? When I run, I only experience pain in the front of my feet — no discomfort anywhere else!