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Practical Winter Running Tip: Protecting Your Feet from Potential Traction Mishap

By John Fiore, PT
Sapphire Physical Therapy

Icy and snow-packed roads and trails synonymous with winter in Montana are here. While Missoula runners often trade running shoes for ski boots, January marks the beginning of training for the 2019 running season. Runners have numerous ways to transform running shoes into traction beasts to tame the worst winter running conditions. Traction can be added via sheet metal screws, Due North traction devices, or Kahtoola Microspikes. While all of these options will dramatically improve traction, they also place increased stress on the foot. Protecting your feet from the focal pressure points secondary to running shoe traction devices will increase winter running enjoyment and reduce foot injury.

Ice is as firm as concrete. Add wire and metal traction devices between and icy surface and the foot and the stage is set for metatarsalgia. The term metatarsalgia is used to describe “pain in the metatarsal bone(s) of the foot. The metatarsals are located in the forefoot between the bones of the midfoot and toes. Metatarsals are long, slender bones which function to absorb impact and allow the foot to accommodate to uneven surfaces. When a metatarsal becomes irritated due to high, repetitive impact, a bone inflammatory response occurs. Reducing impact, pressure, and weight bearing will reduce metatarsalgia symptoms. A simple rock plate can be made at home to reduce the risk of developing metatarsalgia secondary to running with winter traction devices. Below are several photos and a description of how to make any pair of running shoes into a pair of metatarsalgia-proof winter running beasts.

Materials:

  • Flexible cutting board (purchased for $4.99 at Ace Hardware)
  • Sharpie pen
  • Scissors
  • Running shoes
  • Traction device (Kahtoola Microspikes used for example)

 

Step One:

  • Remove running shoe insoles and place on flexible cutting board
  • Trace insole on flexible cutting board using Sharpie pen
  • Cut out new rock plate with scissors

                             

 

Step Two:

  • Trim rock plate as needed to fit inside running shoes
  • Insert rock plate in running shoes
  • Place insoles back in running shoes on top of rock plate

 

Step Three:

  • Put running shoes on and attach Kahtoola Microspikes
  • Enjoy winter running without associated metatarsalgia pain