A foot doctor or a podiatrist is a medical specialist who treats injuries and other problems in your foot and the area around it. Most athletes have their foot doctors, mainly because they’re prone to leg and foot injuries, but that’s not the only reason to see a podiatrist.
Marathoners and sprinters also see a podiatrist before their big race, mainly because they believe that a foot doctor can help optimize their running times through tips and insights.
Below are things that a foot doctor can provide,which can improve your running performance:
1. Workout Routine
Too much of anything isn’t always a good idea, which is why exercising a lot doesn’t mean you’ll achieve your peak running performance.
After all, the workout routine that a quarterback needs is different from that of a basketballer. Naturally, runners also require a different regimen.
The good news is most foot doctors have some experience dealing with athletes, so they’re very much aware of which exercises are a waste of time for a runner and which activities can showcase your full potential. Most of the suggested activities you’ll receive from foot doctors include:
- Forward lunge
- Forearm plank
- Backward skate
- Side steps
You should also remember that foot doctors recommend these kinds of exercises for a reason.
Hence, you can ask them why these are the best exercises for a runner. That way, you can gain some insights if you ever plan to create a workout plan by yourself.
Foot doctors can also provide you with a list of the best food to consume when doing these workouts.
2. Suitable Diet
If you think that eating healthy is enough to improve your running times, you’re mistaken.
Muscle builders may eat nuts and seeds to supply their body with fiber, but that’s not a recommended diet for runners, especially since fiber can cause gastrointestinal problems.
The point is, there are foods suitable for runners, but there are also those that can cause serious problems. As always, asking a foot doctor for suggestions is a good idea, especially since they know your foot and legs’ inner workings. Examples of food suited for runners include:
- Peanut butter
- Dark chocolate
Like with the workout routine, podiatrists can also explain why these kinds of food are suitable for runners such as yourself. After spending some time with your foot doctor, you’ll eventually know what diet or workout routine can help your running times.
However, these lifestyle changes aren’t the only reason foot doctors are sought-after by athletes, and the next section might surprise you.
3. Custom Orthotics
Orthotics refers to medical devices that podiatrists add to footwear to correct any patient’s foot issues. So, what does this have to do with you?
To begin with, typical running shoes have a structure that brings comfort to their users, but that’s just about it. No matter how expensive they are, comfort is the only thing running shoes can provide you, and comfort doesn’t exactly help your running times, does it?
What you need are shoes that provide arch support.
As the name suggests, arch support is the arch-shaped part of a shoe that supports your foot, helping minimize foot pain, which can be crucial if you want to keep running.
Moreover, with less pain, you’ll also gain more momentum, which can ultimately lead to better running performance. And, yes, podiatrists can recommend the perfect orthotics for you. But before they can recommend the ideal footwear, they must first conduct a gait analysis.
4. Gait Analysis
Gait analysis is the process of observing a patient to gather information about their running style. This practice is crucial to determine what kind of orthotics or footwear is suitable for the patient, but that’s not all there is to gait analysis.
By understanding how you walk and run, the foot doctor can identify your bad habits and provide tips to avoid or get over these habits.
This is possible after they’ve calculated metrics such as:
- Weight distribution
- Stride length
- Center of force
- Swing time
- Step time
Foot doctors can also spot any abnormalities or conditions after observing your movement, which takes us to the next point.
5. Long-Term Conditions
Although your main goal is to improve your running times, you should also take care of your health. After all, you may have a long-term condition that may become worse if not taken care of, which is why visiting a foot doctor is advisable.
Foot doctors more than capable of treating long-term conditions like:
- Growing pains
- Nail disorders
- Heel pain
- Fractures and sprains
These medical specialists also provide self-care advice according to your condition so you can take care of yourself even without seeing them frequently.
From this guide alone, you can see that by visiting a foot doctor, not only can you improve your running performance, you can also make sure you don’t suffer from any foot problems just because you weren’t aware of them.
This just goes to show that seeing a medical specialist is one of the keys to a fulfilling life, whether you’re a runner or just someone who wants to stay physically active through running.