Archive for the ‘Podiatry’ Category

Runners Beware

June 10, 2010
Dr. Phillip Decubellis, DPM, PhD

Dr. Phillip Decubellis, DPM, PhD, Podiatry and Wound Care

Summer is a great time to get back into your running routine or to ramp up you training and exercise for the coming summer months. But it’s always important to take it slowly and to train carefully with the advice of an expert to avoid running injuries.

Before you get started, no matter how fit you may be, it’s important to remember that stretching before and after a run is a great way to minimize injuries. Choosing proper footwear is very important and your podiatrist can help you choose the right shoe for your level of activity. Finally, you will want to work with the doctor to develop an effective training routine that allows your body (and more importantly, your feet) to adapt to a new level of exercise. But no matter how careful you are, you may end up with some common injuries such as those listed here.

Shin splints: Shin splints, which are painful and appear at the front and inside of the leg, are often caused by running on hard surfaces, over striding, muscle imbalance, or overuse. Shin splints can also be related to the shape and structure of your feet. Treatment includes rest, stretching, changing your running technique, and rebalancing foot mechanics with the use of an orthotics device in the shoe. Physical therapy can also be helpful. If you begin to feel this type of pain, slow down, take shorter strides, and see a podiatrist at your first opportunity.

Stress fractures: A stress fracture is a tiny or incomplete crack in a bone that is often caused by overuse. Stress fractures occur most frequently in the foot and ankle, so your podiatrist is well trained to diagnose and treat this problem. Signs of a stress fracture are pain that increases with activity and decreases with rest, pain that increases over time or pain that persists even at rest. Often a stress fracture will result in swelling and a spot that feels tender to the touch.

Prompt diagnosis and treatment of a stress fracture can often prevent further injury. Your podiatrist can determine your best treatment with x-ray and a physical exam. Many stress fractures can be treated with rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers. For most people, an appropriate period of rest will be sufficient for the bone to heal, but like all fractures, the bone can take up to 8 to10 weeks to heal completely. In other cases, your podiatrist may need to immobilize the affected bone with a cast, cast boot, fracture shoe, or a splint. Surgical intervention may be suggested if other, more conservative treatments are not effective.

Blisters and nail problems: Runners often have blisters and nail problems but with a little maintenance and care, they can be avoided or minimized so that they don’t limit your ability to keep up your training routine. Blisters are caused by skin friction. Don’t pop them. Apply moleskin or an adhesive bandage over a blister, and leave it on until it falls off naturally in the bath or shower. Keep your feet dry and always wear socks as a cushion between your feet and shoes. If a blister breaks on its own, wash the area, apply an antiseptic, and cover with a sterile bandage.

Ingrown nails are nails whose corners or sides dig painfully into the skin, often causing infection. They are frequently caused by improper nail trimming but also by shoe pressure, injury, or poor foot structure. Runners are particularly susceptible to nail problems, and long-distance runners often lose some of their toenails entirely while they are training. If an ingrown portion of the nail is painful or infected, your podiatrist can remove the affected portion to allow for healing. It is possible to permanently remove the offending portion of the nail to prevent occurrence. Just a few of the problems runners run into. If you have any foot or leg problems, just email me at and I will do my best to help you.