Running trend foot health risk

  • 27 per cent of people are running or jogging, more than going to the gym (23 per cent)
  • 70 per cent admit to not wearing shoes specific to their sport
  • 30 per cent of people experience leg pain, but more than a quarter of these do not seek professional advice
  • Increased stress to cartilage and joints is linked to arthritis. Cases of arthritis of the foot are on the rise2


New research reveals that we have become a nation of pavement pounders but are not taking adequate steps to protect ourselves from injury or long term damage, according to The College of Podiatry, the academic authority for podiatry in the UK.

Research released today to mark Feet for Life Month, shows that 27 per cent of people are running or jogging once a week or more, that’s more than going to the gym (23 per cent). Those aged 35-44 are on the biggest fitness drive, with 35 per cent running once a week or more. After walking, running was revealed to be the most popular form of exercise. Fitness is clearly on the agenda with 35 per cent of people say they are currently, or are planning to be, more active in 2012.

However, when it comes to buying sports shoes, 70 per cent of people do not buy sports shoes specific to the sport that they take part in, with people prioritising price (52 per cent) and the appearance of the shoe (32 per cent).  Running requires a show which has adequate cushioning in the midsole and a flared heel for stability.

Running, particularly on hard pavements, can cause stress to the cartilage in the joints which over time, can potentially lead to osteoarthritis – wearing adequate footwear is a way to help reduce stress to the feet and joints. Research shows that arthritis is on the rise, with 60 per cent of cases in the feet[1]. The research reveals that 30 per cent of the population cite that they experience lower leg pain occasionally and nearly one in ten (9 per cent) cope with it frequently. However, 27 per cent of those who have experienced leg pain have not sought any medical advice and have carried on as usual.

Foot experts are warning that many people are putting themselves at increased risk of injury and of long term problems such as arthritis, by not preparing for sports correctly and wearing inadequate sports shoes which do not provide the right mechanical assistance for the foot. Experts cite overuse, training errors, inadequate footwear, poor muscle strength, poor core stability, flexibility and poor balance as factors contributing to exercise injuries.

Dr Nat Padhiar, a Consultant Podiatrist who is a Lead Clinician and Team Leader for Podiatry at the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games said: “Running and jogging are a great, low cost way to keep fit. In order to get the most out of your exercise routine and to prevent injury or long term problems, it is vital to prepare properly. Ensure you wear appropriate footwear that is specific to that sport, warm up and cool down effectively, and make sure you gradually build up your exercise routine. We see a lot of injuries as a result of people suddenly and dramatically increasing the length or intensity of their exercise. It is better to gradually increase it and build up your fitness, flexibility and muscle strength over time. If you do experience ongoing foot or leg pain then seek professional advice – do not run through pain.”

Top tips for safe running and exercising:


  • Choose the correct shoes for the sport.   If running is the choice for 2012, buy a running shoe which has adequate cushioning in the midsole and a flared heel for stability. However, if it’s a racquet sport such as squash or tennis, buy shoes designed for racquet sports that give better stability when moving and stopping suddenly around the court -a running shoe wouldn’t be suitable due to lack of lateral support.


  • Follow the 1cm rule – when shopping for the perfect sports shoes ensure you can wiggle your toes a little – leave 1cm of room from the top of your longest toe to the end of your shoe. Try on both shoes and walk around the shop to make sure they don’t pinch or rub.


  • Always wear socks to reduce the risk of fungal infection and blisters. The best running socks are ones that are made from synthetic materials which are designed to wick sweat away from the skin, (such as CoolMaxÒ) as they don’t absorb moisture like 100% cotton socks, and keep the feet drier.


  • Warm up and stretch – before starting any form of exercise, stretch and warm up your entire body and then stretch and cool down at the end of every session.


  • Prepare your body– incorporate strength and flexibility exercises into your regime to ensure that your body is in the best possible condition for exercise and sport


  • Seek expert advice if necessary – if you have ongoing foot pain that doesn’t go away, have it examined by a professional.




Research was carried out amongst 2,000 UK adults online by One Poll between 08.05.12 and 11.05.12. All responses have been weighted and are representative.

Notes to editors

The College of Podiatry – the UK’s leading foot health experts.

The College of Podiatry is the leading UK expert in preventative care, diagnosis and treatment of problems affecting the feet, ankles and lower limbs.

Formed in 2012, the College is the academic authority for podiatry and chiropody in the UK, and a charity dedicated to foot health research, education and public awareness.

The College of Podiatry leads and informs the work of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists – the professional body for UK registered podiatrists and chiropodists.

[1] Menz et al Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 2009 17, 298-303