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My Focus on Fitness | Camo Strip (top)
My Focus on Fitness | Camo Strip (bottom)

Injuries and Exercise

Injuries are common over time from to much overuse of the feet and joints.  Any rhythmic exercise that repeats the same movement over an extended time period can set you up for overuse or repetitive motion injury. According to New York Presbyterian Hospital, repetitive motion injury is defined as “temporary or permanent injuries to muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons caused by performing the same motion over and over again.” On the elliptical trainer or treadmill, foot overuse injury is most often related to poor exercise technique and inadequate footwear.

Common Low-Impact Foot Injuries

While lower in impact than running, walking on the treadmill can still stress the joints, muscles and connective tissue. The elliptical eliminates some impact stress, but poor technique can still over-stress the feet. The most common types of treadmill and elliptical foot injuries are metatarsal strain or fracture, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon strain, shin splints and toe or forefoot pain or numbness. The danger of injury is compounded for neophytes just beginning an exercise program because the muscles that stabilize your joints are not developed.

Proper Technique

Good joint alignment helps distribute body weight correctly to minimize injury. To achieve perfect elliptical alignment, place your toes at the front of the pedal, arms hanging at your sides. Find your balance and do a few revolutions without using arm support. Allow the heel to lift naturally as the foot passes beneath the knee. At the top of the cycle, push down through your heel, not your forefoot. When using arm support, maintain your balance and do not lean forward. On the treadmill, begin at a low speed, standing erect with arms at your sides. Allow your foot to roll in a heel-ball-toe sequence, not walking flat-footed or striking your forefoot first. Use rails and grips for balance, but do not lean forward or support your weight with your arms.

Footwear

Shoes are your primary protective gear for fitness activities, and worn or cheaply made shoes can cause injury. A good athletic shoe provides stability and shock absorption, holding your foot and ankles in correct alignment while absorbing impact. Even if your gym shoes look presentable, they may have lost their original protective properties. Correct fit is critical. Purchase athletic shoes one-half size larger than street shoes. They should feel supportive but not pinch or rub. Shoes with a removable insole tend to be better made. If the insole is glued in, it is probably a cheaply made shoe.  There are athletic stores located in the East Valley that will actually put you on a treadmill and videotape your footage while having you run, and will recommend a good shoe for you.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at brenda@myfocusonfitness.com or you may contact me at 480-699-3162 or visit my website at www.myfocusonfitness.com

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