2020 National Running Show Survey: Foot Health Impacts Runners Performance Highlighting The Need For Smart Recovery Routines

Running is excellent for our physical and mental health. It awakens our inner competitor: we want to win! And we also want the best kit available, which is why the global running footwear market will exceed £55Bn in 2020. But what happens between runs after those expensive trainers are unlaced?

The lost training and racing time identified in our survey must hit runners’ performance. We all need smart foot health routines but runners are at an increased risk of and must address three important questions:

  1. Warm-ups and cool-downs: How much stretching are you really doing?
  2. Recovery Footwear: What do you wear between training and racing?
  3. Rest: Are you listening to your body, treating it with respect and getting enough rest?

What About Recovery? 

In oratory, the spaces left between words can be as important as the words themselves. Is the recovery between bouts of racing and training just as important to runners’ performance? The WarOnFootPain and footwear brand Aussie Soles visited the 2020 National Running Show to answer this question. Interviewing 200+ runners, we have conducted a fascinating survey of training habits, pain and recovery routines. Here are some of the findings:

  • More than 1/3 of runners that were interviewed suffered from Plantar Fasciitis/ Fasciopathy (PF).
  • 32 days of training and competing per runner was lost on average in the last 12 months.
  • Only 4% of PF sufferers are aware of the need to slip into arch support for their first step of the day.
  • 66% of pain-free runners practiced post-exercise recovery.
Number of answers out of 204 responses

We asked the runners about their best tips to avoid foot pain and listed them out for you below.  

7 Most Popular Foot Pain Tips From Runners:

  1. Make sure you rest properly between long runs.
  2. Wear the most suitable and comfortable trainers you can afford:  it is the only thing between you and the road.
  3. Get your foot pain checked and get professional advice straight away.
  4. Stop when it hurts, do not “push” through the pain.
  5. Do weightlifting and cross training to build muscle strength.
  6. Foam rolling and roller balls are great for recovery.
  7. Listen to your body!

The Best Recovery Tip

We selected the tip that we thought was the best and most comprehensive:

“Never run through severe pain or injury. Change shoes every year to 2 years depending on usage. Mix off and on road running, mix distances and speeds. Listen to your body and rest if tired or ill. Run on fresh legs first thing in the morning.” 
Sally Mortleman, GB Runner and IronWoman

The Top 3 most popular recovery products among runners were rollers, mobility balls and stretching bands while 3 top recovery practices included:

  • 14% of respondents wear recovery footwear with built-in arch support;
  • 25% wear compression socks like these foot pump socks from Healthy Step;
  • 21% use physio tape available from companies such as D3tape.

The Podiatrists View

“Don’t run through pain, all you are doing is more soft tissue damage. Rest. And if the pain persists then see a professional immediately,” said podiatrist and author David Tollafield.

Sports specialist and former NHS podiatrist Dave James observed that for runners reporting “plantar fascia and Achilles’ tendon pain, time away from running is short”Are they returning from injury too soon? James also noted, that “44% of respondents don’t wear any kind of orthotic or arch support footwear”. This is very concerning given our findings from the College of Podiatry conference last November where WarOnFootPain surveyed over 150 podiatrists on foot pain treatment. David Tollafield reviewed that survey highlighting that “97% of podiatrists would recommend arch support for prevention of and recovery from plantar fasciitis”. 

The Physio/Bio-mechanical Podiatrist’s view

“The number and type of injuries doesn’t surprise me. Recovery methods are a concern. Why do runners spend so much on trainers but then forget to wear recovery footwear?” says Michael Thompson of Bristol Physio. On reviewing the top tips he said: “Runners should not roll their feet on an ice bottle as the shape will not massage the plantar fascia properly. Better to use a golf ball or pediroller. The technique is key: roll the ball under the arch while keeping your toes up!”

Plantar Fascia massage technique

The Artist’s view

“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.”
Leonardo da Vinci

Send us your thoughts and questions via ‘Leave a Reply’ link below, we think this conversation is important for promotion of podiatry and foot health.

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