It is this group of teens and slightly younger that play sports in junior high and high school that we need to be most concerned about, as they have a greater chance of overuse injuries.

About 20 percent of this age group have a weak foot. When the foot collapses entirely it causes instability, leading to gait and posture problems. This in turn can cause foot and ankle pain, night cramps, pain when walking or lower back pain. There is also a greater chance with the teens of injury to the epiphysis, or growth center of bone. Injury to the epiphysis of the heel, knee or hip can cause a disturbance in the bone formation. The growing pains of children are, at times, due to pain of the apophyseal or heel growth plate.

Many of these problems and abnormalities can be avoided with stretching and strengthening exercises and conditioning programs, cross training and biomechanical orthotics. The orthotic shoe inserts are individually molded for the patient and are intended to correct an abnormal walking and running gait which will avoid trouble later in life.

Dr.Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery, he was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons & has a practice in Darien, affiliated with Stamford Hospital and member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot & Ankle Institute, and resides in Westport.

For info visit his Web site at www.stamfordhealthmedicalgroup.org,