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James Hogg is a Gateshead Harrier and former Loughborough Students Athletics Club middle distance runner, now working as a podiatrist for NHS in Birmingham. He ran 1m53secs for 800m and trained alongside Olympic semi-finalist Ricky Soos and Commonwealth Champion, Olympic 4th Placer and World Championship silver medalist Lisa Dobriskey among others.

 

So James, what is a podiatrist and what is a chiropodist and what do they do?

In the UK podiatry is simply the new name for chiropody. The name was changed to podiatry in 1993 as it’s the international recognized name for a foot specialist.

Podiatry is a constantly evolving profession and is increasingly recognized as an important part of injury prevention and treatment in athletes of all standards. Podiatrists treat a vast array of foot and lower limb problems. Along with the most obvious treatments for corns and hard skin, specialties exist within the profession for almost any lower limb problem. The treatment and prevention of Sports injuries and very often runners forms one of the specialisms within podiatry. Podiatrists can address problems arising from the way that joints are aligned and the muscles function it produces.

 

You were a very good runner with a best of 1min53sec for the 800m, why should a runner come to see you from your experiences as a top national athlete?

I can certainly recommend the value of podiatry from my own personal experience. A long standing Achilles tendon injury was preventing me from training when I made an appointment to see a podiatrist. Following a thorough gait analysis and biomechanical assessment I was prescribed a pair of custom made orthotics which helped me back to pain free running within weeks. Podiatrists prescribe foot orthotics to correctly align and stabilize the foot. They are specially designed devices worn in the shoe to control abnormal foot function

 

What are the most common foot problems you encounter from runners?

Runners present with numerous foot complaints and often pose the greatest challenge to a podiatrist. As a former athlete myself and my time treating runners I know how frustrating being injured is, and no matter if it’s a blister or a painful knee runners want to be back running quickly. Injuries that runners frequently present with generally fall into two main categories. Firstly blisters and painful hard skin (callus), and secondly injuries derived from abnormal biomechanical function and overuse.

Blisters and callus may seem fairly trivial but often the runners I treat will have had time off running because of them. Blisters can arise at anytime even with an established pair of trainers. An increase in mileage, a change in terrain, and the wearing of a shoe can sometimes cause rubbing which in turn causes a blister. Painful blisters and hard skin can largely be prevented with the use of antiblister socks which I now recommend to runners and other sports men and women alike. I much prefer recommending antiblister socks to prevent a blister, as opposed to advising rest.

Injuries commonly experienced by runners as a result of faulty foot function and poor alignment include lower back injuries, hip injuries (eg Ilio-tibial band irritation), knee injuries (eg Patellofemoral pain), Leg injuries (eg Medial shin pain and irritation), and foot injuries (eg Heel-pain syndrome and Achilles tendon problems).

 

People are on their feet not just for training but in general everyday, what are your top tips for keeping your feet in their best condition?

The most frequent cause of foot complaints that podiatrist deal with on a day to day is footwear and therefore is always the starting point for foot health. Most of the problems with footwear manifest as painful hard skin or blisters which tend to appear in runners when the intensity, frequency or duration of training increases. In my experience the Runbreeze anti blister socks have helped prevent blisters in many of my patients and they now consider them an important part of their kit. Most foot care is self explanatory but things like hygiene (checking in between toes for athlete’s foot) and keeping the nails cut well can prevent problems further down the line.