Pre-Olympic research examines foot injuries of runners
By Rosanne Fohn
Which is related to more running injuries ― the way your foot strikes the ground or the type of shoes you wear?
Catherine Ortega, Ed.D., PT, ATC, OCS, and Julie Barnett, PT, D.P.T., M.T.C., from the Department of Physical Therapy at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, aim to find out.
The faculty members presented preliminary data July 21 about foot strike and running shoes during a poster presentation at the International Convention on Science, Education and Medicine in Sport in Glasgow, Scotland, U.K., before attending some of the 2012 Olympics events in London.
This pre-Olympic Congress, held July 19-23, is an international scientific meeting that represents a collaborative effort between the governing bodies of sport, namely, the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, International Ortanization of Sports Medicine (international abbreviation FIMS) and the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE). More than 3,000 sports medicine professionals from around the world, including medical doctors, Ph.Ds. and physical therapists, as well as coaches and sports psychologists from the Olympic Games were in attendance.
“Prior to the pre-Olympic Congress in China, all these organizations would hold separate scientific meetings, so this combined meeting is a much more efficient way to exchange information and plan international efforts with science and education,” said Dr. Ortega, a Distinguished Teaching Professor, associate professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at the Health Science Center. She also is a past president of the World Federation of Athletic Training & Therapy (a member of the ICSSPE) and was a liaison to the FIMS at the pre-Olympic Congress.
International interest in running injury topics
“There was a lot of international interest in our topic,” said Dr. Barnett, a clinical assistant professor, who noted that an initial review of the literature showed there were no studies being conducted on the topic of running styles and shoes on running injuries. “We visited with quite a few people, from South Africa, Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines and United Kingdom. There are now a number of studies under way on impact forces and running speed related to running injuries.”
“There was much interest and many conversations about the potential of international collaborations on further research,” Dr. Ortega added.
Health Science Center faculty members and students researching runners’ foot injuries conducted a pilot study in 2010 of runners in the USA Fit program preparing for the San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. They filmed runners to determine their running styles and surveyed them about the age of their running shoes and shoe brand. They discovered that most of the runners in the study group strike the ground with their heels first, rather than their forefoot or midfoot, and that most runners’ shoes were about six months old when beginning training for the marathon.
Further studies proposed on this topic
They are seeking funding to conduct a new study next year to more closely examine running styles to better determine its impact on injuries. Dr. Barnett added that there was particular interest from some of the South Africans who said that their athletes typically run barefoot or in shoes with less cushioning than in the U.S. “There has been a lot of interest in the minimal-support shoes that are being sold for runners now in the U.S.,” Barnett said.
She suspects that runners with different running styles or different types of shoes will also have injuries, but that are related to their type of foot strike or shoe. More information about the new study may be available next spring.
In addition to Drs. Barnett and Ortega, others contributing to the study were local physical therapist Barry Morgan and recent physical therapy graduates Cynthia Alfaro, Lori Cano, Monique Cruz, Sarah Idriss, Ileana Juarez, Tiffany Neal, Jennifer Seay, Jacqueline Smith and Julianne Stafford.
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