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.

Save Koalas And Help Runners Reduce Foot Pain

We aim to boost performance by getting ‘runners telling runners’ their favourite routine for Sports Recovery. When our survey results hit the 200 mark we will donate $1,000 Australian Dollars to the WWF AUSTRALIA BUSHFIRE EMERGENCY. Aussie Soles are the 2019/20 Sponsor of ‘The War on Foot Pain’ and together with author and podiatrist, David Tollafield, will be fighting the next battle at The National Running Show in Birmingham (Stand K45) – saving runners from foot pain!


Don’t persevere with pain…


159 respondents at the Conference of Podiatry 2019 provided interesting insights into their foot pain case loads. In this article I reflect on the results and implications for people suffering from foot pain.

Click HERE to see the full War on Foot Pain Pilot Survey Results or read my summary below. The survey was designed in collaboration with Aussies Soles. 98% of podiatrists said they would recommend Aussie Soles as a healthy alternative to flat sandals. 87% of podiatrists included supportive/cushioning footwear in their treatment of foot pain (download Aussie Soles’ PDF HERE).

Q1 Which of the following foot pain problems have you treated in the last month?

Plantar Fasciitis was the most frequently seen condition followed by Bunions and Metatarsalgia. All 3 cause severe discomfort. Do not persevere with pain as it may not go – best to get a checkup.

Q2 What proportion of your patients suffer from plantar fasciitis/ fasciopathy?

1 in 5 patients (or more) suffered from plantar fasciitis according to half of the 159 podiatrists surveyed.  1 in 10 of us is likely to suffer from plantar fasciitis at some point in our lives.

1 in 10 of us will suffer from Plantar Fasciitis, the most frequently seen foot pain condition

Q3 Which of the following have you included in a plantar fasciitis treatment plan?

Stretching came 1st. Followed by supportive footwear and orthotic use to reduce stress on the arch. Avoid surgery by getting help early (ideally within 3 – 6 months). Try these self help tips.

Q4 Arch support is an important part of the treatment of plantar fasciitis

97% Agree. An ‘arch support’, is used here to describe a mechanical variation on the insole bed within a shoe (this contour needs to be the right fit and comfortable to be effective).  Think of it as assisting a treatment plan and providing a prophylactic aid against pain returning!

Q5  Wearing shoes without arch support can cause foot pain in general

83% Agree. These results surprised me. I can see this might be the case in certain circumstances but I would not rush to throw out all of your flat shoes – unless they are causing you pain right now.

Keeping supportive footwear by the bed could help avoid ‘first step’ foot pain

Q6 Putting  on arch support shoes helps avoid ‘first step’ pain or ‘early morning foot pain’

88% Agree. Wearing arch support shoes around the house could help patients comply with the ‘supportive footwear’ treatment. Keep a pair by the bed (for hygiene, not your outdoor shoes).

Q7 When buying open-shoes how important are these design elements to foot health?

Arch support came 1st. ‘Stable heel and flexible forefoot’ i.e. a sensible breakpoint came 2nd. ‘Open-shoes’ (sandals, flip-flops or slides) were the focus, so no surprises ‘wide strap’ was 3rd.

1st Arch Support. 2nd Stable heel and flexible forefoot. 3rd Wide strap to secure the foot.

Q8 Would you recommend Aussie Soles as a healthy alternative to flat flip-flops? 

98% said ‘Yes’. I actually wear mine as a healthy alternative to other healthy open-shoes!  I own a pair of Crocs  but for comfort and lightness (especially when travelling) I go for my Aussie Soles.

Q9 Would you recommend Aussie Soles for recovery after sports (post-exercise)? 

93% said ‘Yes’. Sporty types will encounter plantar fasciitis so we are back to an arch support regime. Aussie Soles aerate the feet, are comfortable and won’t absorb moisture from wet, dirty surfaces. 

Q10 Which of the following best describes your skillset?

54% said General Podiatry. 26% stated ‘Sports or Biomechanical’. The podiatrists surveyed also treated Flat Feet, Mortons Neuroma and Achilles tendonitis amongst other pain conditions.

My conclusion from this survey is that we have a long way to go to educate the general public about Plantar Fasciitis. Ironically the top 2 treatments: stretching and supportive footwear are also preventative measures that could be taught by sports coaches or even parents (in the way that many teach their children oral hygiene and routine brushing of teeth). On that note, many people know how to select a toothbrush for their needs, but I am not sure how many understand the important design elements of a shoe. Reading the podiatrists views in this survey may cause examination beyond pure looks.

Podiatrists Wage War On Foot Pain!

The College of Podiatry Conference in Harrogate was a revelation to us – a place where innovative, knowledgeable and passionate professionals meet. We were overwhelmed by the positive and warm reception to Aussie Soles as a possible compliment to treatment plans for foot pain and would like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU.

Many people asked: “Why do you need to be so radical and declare a War?” Well, how else can we attract attention and promote Podiatry? Many people consider foot pain a norm, forgetting that untreated foot problems lead to loss of mobility in older age. We need the general public to take preventative measures and when pain persists get a check-up with their local podiatrist.

Podiatrist Rianna Dunn visits Aussie Soles at COP Conference

What started out as a tactical battle to attract attention at the conference will now become a strategic war against foot pain. We have funded the website and will sponsor this initiative until we all meet in again Harrogate next year. Big thanks to all of you wonderful podiatrists who participated in our pilot survey: its results will be published shortly on a new website dedicated to the ‘War on Foot Pain’. We will invite foot pain sufferers to the site and encourage them to seek the support of a podiatrist.

Once again, many thanks to the College of Podiatry and all the wonderful people who visited our stand – see you all next year in Harrogate!

James, Founder of Aussie Soles UK

George Dunn, Chairman of Council, College of Podiatry