This week, as promised, I have been reporting live from Bulgaria.
I was skiing with family in the little-known resort of Bansko. It had been three years since I last fastened the clips on my boots and jumped into a pair of bindings, before falling with style down the side of a mountain, so I expected my return to the slopes to be hard on the legs. Not so. Thanks to all the hard work squatting; lunging; and – ironically – mountain climbing, I was actually pretty prepared to combat the pistes once again.
Because it is your legs that perform most of the work when skiing. Whether you are slide-slipping down an intimidatingly steep path, or arduously skating along a flat road, you are constantly putting pressure on your lower body to stop yourself from falling over – even when you are just standing around aimlessly.
But it is our lowly friend the foot that I want to dedicate this blog post to. Because where would our legs even be without feet?
When exercising, no piece of attire is more important than shoes. According to all-round foot boffin and Podiatrist at large, Mike O’Neill, around 65% of recreational sportspeople in Britain wear the wrong shoes. This can cause any degree of complications from shin splints and knee pain, to traumatised toes and crippling Sciatica.
So, your running shoes should not be worn for tennis, and your ten-year-old Adidas mid-tops were certainly not meant for sprinting on a treadmill (who knew!). It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t hold on to exercise shoes for too long before throwing them out.
Running shoes need changing around every 400-500 miles; or when the soles start turning white where the material has started to wear off; or when the middle of the shoe becomes very thin and delicate; or all of the above.
How your shoes wear out can be an accurate indicator of problems with your gait. Pronation is the assessment of how people walk in relation to the angle of their foot. Underpronators land on their outer foot and don’t roll on to the balls of their feet, shocks then transmit up the lower leg causing shin splints. Overpronators roll past the balls of their feet and put excessive pressure on their foot arches, causing painful bunions and heel spurs. If you over-pronate you will wear out the arches of your shoes, and if you under-pronate the outer edges of your trainers will be more worn.
When running you can put as much as six times your body weight on each foot, depending on how fast you’re going; and the average pair of feet walks the equivalent of five times around the Earth in their lifetime. That’s a lot considering feet are less than 5% of total body mass. To give feet the attention they deserve, they should be washed after every bout of exercise, especially between the toes, and always kept as dry as possible. Get a ped-egg if you have to, and go to town on those bunions.