Q After watching friends complete a half-marathon, I want to join in the fun. I am 32, 5ft 3in tall, I weigh almost 10 stone and I was born with a club foot, which has been operated on several times. I have limited movement in my ankle, which has been made easier in recent months by wearing an orthotic. Can I run, or would it lead to injury?
As a congenital club foot involves your foot being held in a plantaflexed and inverted position (pointed down and turned in), it has the potential to alter your walking and running biomechanics (gait pattern). For example, you may have noticed that when walking, you lock your knee back as you try to compensate for the lack of ankle movement, or your push-off from that foot is significantly weaker than the other side. Any deviation away from the “norm” could be placing unnecessary strain not only through your legs, but up to your pelvis and back, all of which could make you extremely susceptible to injury.
If you already run short distances and have not experienced any symptoms, you may want to consider gradually building up your mileage and completing short races such as 5Ks and 10Ks with your friends first.
If you have never run before, arrange for a chartered physiotherapist to assess and analyse your current walking and running style and advise you accordingly. From this they should be able to devise an appropriate rehabilitation programme for you to optimise your biomechanics and minimise the stresses and strains being placed on your body.
There are alternative sports, such as swimming and cycling, that you could get involved in with your friends while your running evolves. There are triathlons, for example, where you compete as part of a team with each member of the team completing one discipline. Have a look on www.britishtriathlon.org to find out which triathlons allow team entries.
—Nicki de Leon, physiotherapist and Clinical Director at Sports and Spinal Clinics (Moorgate)