We are Seeing New Injuries Related to Changes in Activity During the Covid Crisis – Here’s How to Avoid Them

running injuries covid

We want to do what we can to make sure you are all staying active and healthy during this crisis.

To that end, we want to tell you about some of the foot and ankle injuries we are seeing directly related to the stay-at-home order and what you can do to prevent these foot and ankle problems.

Walking and Running Are on the Rise

With the closure of gyms, parks, tennis courts and playfields a lot of you have started new or increased walking and running programs as a primary form of exercise.

Increased Foot and Ankle Overuse Injuries

With increasing walking and running we are seeing an increase in overuse injuries including stress fractures, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis

These are all occurring primarily because of improper training – essentially doing too much, too soon.

Even if you are in great shape, but you don’t walk or run regularly, you are likely to get injured if you start a walking or running program without gradually working into that activity.

Overuse injuries also occur when you add increase your mileage too rapidly.

What Does Research Teach Us About How to Avoid Overuse Foot and Ankle Injuries

Much research in sports medicine over the past two decades as focused on what is called “tissue adaptation” – allowing tissue to slowly adapt to increasing force.

If you start a new activity, let’s say a walking program, and do just a little bit too much too soon, injury rates increase.

Avoid Overuse Injuries by Using the “Rule of 2”

The most important thing you can do to avoid injury is to gradually work into your new activity. We recommend following a formula called the “Rule of 2”.  This says that if you are starting a new walking or running program you should start with just than 10 minutes for your first session and increase by 2 minutes each session.

At any point if you have some pain or discomfort then decrease your time the next day to what you had done the previous day. Stay at that level for at least 2 pain free sessions. After that you can start increasing your session time by 2 minutes again.

Sample schedule to more safely increase your activity

Here is a sample of how to gradually increase your workout time in a manner that will let your tissues adapt and help prevent overuse injuries:

  • Day 1: Run or walk 10 minutes If no pain, go to:
  • Day 2: Run or walk 12 minutes. If no pain, go to:
  • Day 3: Run or walk 14 minutes . Let’s say now you have some pain or discomfort. In that case drop back to the previous sessions time:
  • Day 4: Run or walk 12 minutes. If no pain, stay at this level one more day:
  • Day 5: Run or walk 12 minutes. If no pain, you can then increase your time again:
  • Day 6: Run or walk 14 minutes. If no pain:
  • Day 7: Run or walk 16 minutes.
  • And so on……

If you are already doing more than 10 minutes with no problems you can start with that as your baseline. For example, if you are already walking 20 minutes per day, you can start with 20 minutes as your baseline rather than 10 minutes. Then increase by 2 minutes per session.  

By following the Rule of 2, you allow your tissues to adapt appropriately to increasing forces and studies show that allowing slow adaptation dramatically decrease injuries.  

Other Important Tips to Prevent Injury

  • Replace your running or walking shoes after 400 miles. After this amount of mileage support and shock absorption have decreased significantly.
  • If you wear prefabricated orthotics replace them annually if you walk an average number of steps, about 5000 steps.  If you walk or run 10000 steps per day then replace them every 6 months. You can do the math if you walk more than that. 
  • If you wear custom orthotics wear them when you exercise.

We are Open for In-person and Telehealth Appointments

If you experience a foot or ankle injury contact us right away so we can help you get back to activity as soon as possible.  

If you have urgent or acute foot or ankle issues that require an in-person visit we are available during limited hours, but many foot and ankle problems can be helped with a video consult with one of our doctors. You can learn about Telemedicine Visits here.

For either an in-office or telemedicine appointment, call us at 206-344-3808.  

Exercise is more important than ever for your physical and mental health. There is plenty of evidence that regular exercise also helps your immune system. So stay safe and don’t let a foot or ankle injury stop you from exercising. 

Doctors Hale and Huppin

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