From in­jury to Com­pet­ing in in­ter­na­tional ironman events



As a Sports Po­di­a­try clinic, the team at Step­ping Out get the op­por­tu­nity to treat in­cred­i­ble peo­ple, who are do­ing in­cred­i­ble things.

So, step in­side the clinic and take a closer look at what they do through their eyes.

“Mr Run­ner” was a young en­thu­si­as­tic run­ner who fell into the trap of the of­fice RUN AN IRONMAN!

While he had not run in about 12 months due to an Achilles in­jury and shin splint pain, he was still ea­ger to meet the chal­lenge head-on.

He pre­sented to the clinic about three months into his re­turn to run pro­gram, de­feated by the re­turn of his shin splints and the on­set of se­ri­ous Achilles pain. He told us he had lit­tle un­der 18 months to achieve his goal of com­plet­ing his first Ironman com­pe­ti­tion. In­spired by his mo­ti­va­tion to achieve his goals we set out on a quest over the next six months to re­solve his shin splints and Achilles pain.

We started by as­sess­ing his func­tional move­ment and iden­ti­fy­ing his run­ning tech­nique faults and mus­cu­lar weak­nesses. We then con­tin­ued to per­form high-speed video gait anal­y­sis ses­sions with the po­di­a­trist as­sess­ing ev­ery move­ment from heel strike to knee thrust. Re­train­ing the body move­ment as a 28-year-old is by no means easy, and it takes a lot of ded­i­ca­tion from the in­di­vid­ual to prac­tice new tech­niques and run­ning cues.

After ad­dress­ing the need to retrain his tech­nique through gait ther­apy, we be­gan to con­cen­trate on pain man­age­ment as well as the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of his shins and Achilles in­jury.

This be­gan with a footwear as­sess­ment. We found that Mr Run­ner had been pound­ing the pave­ment with an old pair of train­ers that he had been us­ing in the gym for well over six months.

We ex­plained how the rub­bers in shoes com­press and change shape with repet­i­tive

use. It was clear that we needed to get him into a ded­i­cated run­ning shoe and a sec­ond set for re­cov­ery. We moved him into a spe­cialised brand of shoe that would help with his re­cov­ery. This style of shoe could help el­e­vate calf and an­kle tight­ness, while the other type of shoe was used to help him achieve op­ti­mal speed. Within four weeks his shin splint pain had started to re­duce. Dur­ing this time, we in­cor­po­rated neu­ro­mus­cu­lar dry needling and Shock­wave Ther­apy in the clinic once a week.

Through­out the process, we also dis­cov­ered he had one leg longer than the other, which was cor­rected with fully cus­tomised 3D printed or­thotics. We in­te­grated a small heel raise ad­just­ment on one de­vice to bring him back to level.

All was look­ing well, ex­cept for his Achilles pain which had seemed to per­sist. Achilles ten­dini­tis can be a longterm re­cov­ery due to its poor blood sup­ply.

De­spite the cir­cum­stances, we knew that with the right re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and mus­cle con­di­tion­ing, we could build up enough strength in his lower limbs to sup­port dis­tance run­ning.

Strength­en­ing the calf mus­cles, the gluteal mus­cles (bot­tom mus­cles) and ham­string mus­cles are in­te­gral for per­for­mance in sport. We in­sti­gated a cus­tomised strength­en­ing pro­gram and after just eight weeks, we saw the re­sults! His longterm symp­toms deal­ing with pain were un­der con­trol and he was even break­ing through the tar­get times we had set to achieve. The re­sult? Ironman ready!

Mr Run­ner went on to com­pete in the Sun­shine Coast Ironman that year and then the fol­low­ing two years after. He even qual­i­fied for The KONA Ironman event in Hawaii!

This is not an easy ac­com­plish­ment but to push the bar fur­ther, Mr Run­ner fin­ished in the top 15 at the Hawaiian event.

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