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How to be a Successful Runner Even with Flat Feet

How to be a Successful Runner Even with Flat Feet

Approximately 25 percent of the U.S. has flat feet, but this on its own does not typically make it impossible for them to be runners. In fact, this previously misunderstood foot condition is no longer an automatic disqualification from serving in the military, and most people with flat feet are able to do everything that individuals with a standard arch can do. By following a few important foot health tips, people with flat feet can even comfortably finish a marathon.

1. How Can You Tell if You Have Flat Feet?

Most people have an arch in their foot that can easily be seen from the side. In contrast, someone who has been born with flat feet will have little to no discernible arch. This is caused by a collapsed medial longitudinal arch, which can lead to a variety of physical complications if precautions are not taken. It is common for parents to notice the missing arch in a child’s footprint, but it will be necessary for a doctor to examine your feet in order to get a conclusive diagnosis.

2. What Are the Two Categories of Flat Feet?

There are two different types of flat feet: Rigid Flat Feet and Flexible Flat Feet. A rigid flat foot is the least common type, and it is caused by the bone structure of the feet instead of the arch tendons. One of the confusing things about determining whether or not you have this condition is that flexible flat feet can look normal from the side until you actually place weight on the foot. If you have flexible flat feet, your arches will flatten when you stand, walk or run.

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3. Why do People with Flat Feet Need to Take Special Precautions?

As previously mentioned, flat feet can lead to several physical issues if you fail to take some basic precautions. For example, running without the proper shoes or insoles can easily lead to pain in your ankles, heels, lower back and knees. Flat feet are also associated with bunions and shin splints. Anyone who runs regularly without the necessary foot support runs the risk of developing tendinitis in the knees.

4. Will Every Person with Flat Feet Experience Physical Problems?

Although issues such as feet and knee pain are common with flat feet, it is estimated that 20 percent of the people who do not have a proper arch can still participate in a long list of everyday activities without ever developing any associated symptoms. It is likely that these individuals have a small arch that has not completely collapsed. The odds are high that most people in this category are never even diagnosed with flat feet because they do not develop any complaints that need to be looked at by a physician.

5. Are Shoe Insoles Good Enough?

Shoe insoles are one of the most common treatment methods for flat feet. Depending on the severity of your issue, a podiatrist may prescribe a pair that is made specifically for your feet. However, most people are able to purchase insoles that are designed for anyone with fallen arches. This is an affordable method for reducing the symptoms associated with flat feet, but you will still need to be careful about what type of shoes you buy because you need overall foot and ankle support.

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6. Is it Safe to Run with Flat Feet?

The vast majority of people with flat feet can run without developing any serious complications. The trick is to be aware of your condition so that you can use insoles and shoes that will provide support for your ankles and feet. Additionally, the severity of your condition will have an impact on how likely you are to end up suffering from an injury. In other words, if you have rigid flat feet, you will need to be even more aware and vigilant to prevent future issues as a result of running. Overall, it is safe for most people to run with flat feet as long as they have taken precautions.

7. How Can I Select the Best Shoes for Running with Flat Feet?

There are three main things to look for when buying shoes for flat feet: A stiff heel, sturdy construction that is difficult to twist and shoes that bend near the toes but not the middle. Stability shoes offer some much-needed support and will help you avoid over-pronation. There are hundreds of options to choose from, and everyone’s exact needs are different. With this in mind, it is best to receive assistance from a shoe expert. Runners with flat feet often recommend the ASICS Gel-Lyte33 2, New Balance M1080v3 or the Mizuno Wave Inspire 11, so it is a good idea to try on theses shoes to determine if they are a good fit. Keep in mind that it may still be necessary to put insoles into whichever shoes you buy.

8. Can You Rebuild Your Arches?

Many people are born with flat arches, but it is also possible to develop them later in life. Either way, you may be able to at least somewhat rebuild your arches by utilizing toe curl exercises. One easy technique that you can try involves sitting in a chair in a room with a smooth floor. Place a towel on the floor in front of you, and sit with your back straight and your knees at a 90-degree angle from your feet. Next, leave your heel flat and use your toes to grab the towel and pull it toward you. Doing this in repetitions of 10 at least once per day may rebuild your arches.

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9. The Importance of Supporting Your Ankles

Your main focus when looking for shoes will probably be your arches, or lack thereof, but this is not the only area that you need to pay close attention to. Your ankles are especially susceptible to injuries due to your flat feet, so you should always ensure that they are well-supported by your shoes and socks. Again, a sturdy shoe that does not have a lot of bend near the middle is important, and a stiffer exterior near your ankles will be beneficial.

10. Stick to Running Courses on Flat Land

Even if you acquire the very best shoes and insoles, you will still need to pay close attention to the terrain when you go running. Anyone with flat feet is much more likely to suffer from over-pronation on uneven ground. This means that it is actually safer to run on flattop concrete than to choose softer ground that is not level such as trails or a golf course. Of course, if a dirt trail is relatively flat, then the added level of shock absorbency may make it the ideal running spot.

If you do continue to experience pain in your feet, you may benefit from regular foot massages. Be sure to visit your podiatrist as well and ask for a pair of prescription running shoes. By following this combination of tips, you should be able to run without dealing with any excessive pain or flat foot-related physical issues.

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Featured photo credit: Elvert Barnes via flic.kr

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Holly Chavez

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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

When people think of cardio, usually a boring treadmill, elliptical machine, or other mundane activity comes to mind. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

When you’re short on time or easily distracted, there are a variety of fat-burning cardio alternatives that will increase your body’s metabolism, boost weight loss, and keep you interested.

Here’s a list of different types of cardio workouts:

  • Steady State (Burns less fat, but isn’t as demanding on the body)
  • Interval Training (Burns more fat)
  • HIIT
  • Spinning
  • Stairs
  • Weight Training (Supersets) short rest periods
  • Weight Training (Compound Sets) short rest periods
  • Machine Circuit Training

And I’m going to talk about each of them in detail:

1. Steady State

Steady state cardio involves working at a low to moderate intensity — around 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, for a sustained period of time. This type of cardio doesn’t burn a huge number of calories, but it does burn a high percentage of fat tissue for fuel, and it isn’t too draining.

An example of steady state cardio would be a long outdoor walk at a moderate pace. Interval training, on the other hand, is much more intense.

2. Interval Training

Similar to HIIT but with exercises that are slightly longer in duration, interval training alternates levels of intensity. For example, if you enjoy running, you would run or sprint for 30 seconds, then bring down your heart rate and walk for two minutes.

Pick two intensities per interval, usually one at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate and the other at 60 percent, and alternate between them. I find that 85% for 30 seconds and 60% for one minute, not only burns more calories but increases my energy level as well.

Another example would be jumping rope. Jump rope for two minutes, rest for one minute. Begin again, this time jumping rope for one minute and resting for one minute. On the third and final round, jump rope for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds. Repeat five sets of this routine.

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3. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

Have a busy schedule? Fifteen minutes a few times a week is all you need. HIIT is an extremely popular workout because it can be done quickly, burn calories in a short amount of time, and can even be done in your home or during a lunch break at work. And the best part – You don’t need any equipment.

With the use of your body weight, HIIT is typically 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of active rest which means your heart rate remains elevated for the entire 15-minute workout.

Check out this HIIT routine by Fitness Blender: 15 Minute HIIT Workout

4. Spinning

Spinning is a great way to get your heart up and keep it up in a 45-minute spin class. Our thighs and back are our largest muscles so they work the hardest.

To get the most out of spinning, try to stay out of the saddle throughout an entire spin class. That way, you are forced to hold up your body weight which burns more calories and increases intensity.

It’s also great for stabilizing and building strong core muscles, versus cycling outdoors, where most of the time you are sitting in the saddle and going for distance (steady-state cardio).

5. Stairs

One of my favorite places to get out of the gym for cardio and trim fat from my thighs and butt is the Santa Monica Stairs, near California’s most popular beach. Climbing 170 steps a few times builds the glutes, leans the thighs, strengthens the calves, and builds endurance.

So, if the gym is not your scene and you love the outdoors, climbing stairs is a great alternative. Find a place with multiple steps, do six or seven rounds, and you’ve easily burned around 600 calories.

6. Supersets

A superset is two exercises that work opposing muscle groups, such as biceps and triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings, or different body parts such as the lower and upper body with little to no recovery between sets.

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The superset may include two to five sets of 8 to 15 repetitions of each exercise or more.[1]

So, if you love to workout with weight-training but aren’t really feeling cardio, supersets with no more than 30-second rest periods between exercises will keep your heart rate up. Not only will you build muscle, you will burn fat!

For example, say you are doing a leg workout, five sets of exercises with high reps and low weight is all it takes to turn your weight-training into a cardio workout.

Here’s one of my leg training workouts:

i. Dumbbell Step-Ups on a secure bench or box (4×15, each leg)

ii. Front Squat (4×15)

iii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet (4×15)

iv. Leg Extension (4×15)

v. Leg Curl (4×15)

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    Photo Credit: Shape Magazine

    vi. Front Squat


      Photo Credit: Stack

      vii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet Squat

      viii. Leg Extension

      ix. Leg Curl

        Photo Credit: T Nation

        7. Compound Sets

        Compound exercises are exercises that recruit muscles in the entire body, such as pull-ups, squats, bench press, etc. However, a compound set simply means to “compound” the number of different exercises into a series of sets with little or no recovery between, similar to supersets.

          This may be accomplished by performing four to five exercises for the same muscle group, opposing muscle groups or total body exercises performed in succession such as full body extensions, followed by squat/cleans and complete the compound set of compound exercises with lunges with biceps curls.

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          Compound sets put stress on the body and are great for expending additional calories while strength-training.

          8. Machine Weight Training Circuit

          Like compound exercises, a machine circuit workout targets the entire body, upper body, lower body, or core. The difference is, with the use of machines instead of free weights, muscle strength is increased by by making your muscles work against weight.[2] By limiting rest periods between exercises to 30 seconds, your metabolism will go into over-drive!

          Machines also give you better control over the exercises, which decreases risk of injury.

          Here’s a machine circuit training example: Muscle and Strength Machine Workout

          The Bottom Line

          The above-mentioned workouts should be completed within 30 minutes, unless you’re taking a class which is typically 45 to 60 minutes, giving you time to get on with the rest of your day.

          By keeping your rest periods to a minimum between exercises, your heart rate will stay elevated and you will burn more calories, get lean, and have more energy.

          Don’t be a gym rat, spending unnecessary time doing lengthy workouts that give you minimum results. For efficient weight loss, perform these workouts three times a week and watch the fat melt away while achieving your fitness goals.

          More Resources About Weight Loss

          Featured photo credit: Spencer Dahl via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Mountain Life Fitness: Super sets, compound sets and giant sets
          [2] Better Health Channel: Resistance training – health benefits

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