The Running Doctor: Your running program
Daily exercise is important in your running program. The more you run, the more muscle imbalances may occur as you get into condition.
The calf, hamstring (back of the leg and thigh) and lower back muscles become contracted and shortened, as well as tight and inflexible. It's extremely important to stretch those muscles. On the other hand, the shin, quadriceps (front of the thigh) and belly muscles become weakened and they must be strengthened.
For those who are interested in weight loss and a youthful appearance, running burns about 100 calories in one mile. As there are 2,500 calories in a pound, weight loss will be slow unless you run heavy mileage.
The runner must now learn about the relationship between running and the needs of the human body, and needs to use this knowledge in buying the proper running shoes. The right choice in shoes can make a critical difference in your running. Some runners will have special needs, possibly due to an abnormal gait cycle, which causes them to be prone to injury.
A good running shoe is a must to begin your program as well as to increase the training program. Obviously, not all runners are 130 pound flashes. Featherweight shoes could be a disaster for someone who weighs 180 or 200 pounds.
If you are a medium or lightweight runner, your weight should not be a factor in shoe selection. Look for a shoe with at least three layers of rubber and good flexibility for shock absorption.
Heavier runners should look for strong heel counter (the rounded piece in the back of the heel) to provide stability to the foot and mid-sole (the resilient material between the tread and the insole) that does not compress excessively.
High-arch feet do best in narrow-heeled shoes with good shock absorption and flexibility factors. Flat feet do better in more rigid shoes to control the possibility of excessive pronation (inward rotation). Morton's foot (short big toe, long second toe) may require biomechanical orthotic balancing in the shoe.
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 and has a practice in Darien: The Foot & Ankle Institute of Darien. For more information, visit www.therunningdoctor.net.