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

Running is great for our physical and mental health. It awakens our inner competitor - we want the best kit available which is why the global running footwear market will exceed £55Bn in 2020. But what happens between runs when those expensive trainers are unlaced?

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

  1. Stretching – 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 and getting enough rest?

Stretching and recovery after long runs

What About Recovery? 

In oratory, the spaces between words can be as important as the words themselves. Is the recovery between bouts of racing and training just as important to our performance? The WarOnFootPain and sports recovery brand Aussie Soles visited the 2020 National Running Show to answer this question. Interviewing 200 runners they published a fascinating survey of running habits, pain and recovery routines. Here are some of their findings:

  • More than 1/3 of runners suffered from Plantar Fasciitis/ Fasciopathy (PF)
  • 32 days running was lost on average in the 12 months from the onset of pain
  • only 4% of PF sufferers slip into arch support for the first step of the day
  • 66% of pain-free runners practiced post-exercise recovery.

7 Most Popular Foot Pain Tips From Runners

  1. Make sure you rest between long runs
  2. It’s all about the footwear! It’s the only thing between you and the road
  3. Get it checked and get professional advice straight away
  4. Stop when it hurts, use stretch bands at work
  5. Weightlifting and cross training to build strength
  6. Foam rolling is great and strengthening exercises – do both religiously
  7. Listen to your body!

The Best Runners Tip

"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 were rollers, mobility balls and stretching bands. And from the 204 runners emerging 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 runners returning from injury too soon? James also observed that "44% of respondents don’t wear any kind of orthotic or arch support footwear". This is concerning given the findings from the College of Podiatry conference in 2019 where WarOnFootPain surveyed over 150 podiatrists on foot pain treatment. Tollafield reviewed that survey highlighting that "97% of podiatrists would recommend arch support for prevention of and recovery from PF". 

The Physio/Bio-mechanical expert 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 top-tips he says “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 Artists view

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

Look after your feet. No foot pain, more performance gain.

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