Britain’s greatest ever distance runner, Paula Radcliffe, was forced to withdraw from the 2012 Olympics at the start of this week. Despite being the current marathon world record holder and former world champion, and having won Gold in the European and Commonwealth games, she has never won an Olympic medal. The news is agonising for the 38 year old, whose chances of ever gaining this much fought for accolade are now slim. This is the latest in a series of unfortunately timed injuries which have hampered her chances so far.
Paula Radcliffe was forced to lay her London Olympic dreams aside after she failed a fitness test on her left foot. The problems arose three weeks ago, when an Osteoarthritis flare up caused excruciating pain and stiffness in her foot. She has suffered with this condition throughout her career.
Osteoarthritis of the foot is a condition which often presents as a result of wear and tear to this region of the body. It is caused by damage to the cartilage which allows the bones to move smoothly over each other in the joint. Break down of the cartilage leaves the joint less well protected and loose fragments of cartilage and lumps of bone may build up, interfering with the smooth motion of the joint and stopping it working as effectively.
Osteoarthritis can often develop as a result of an underlying biomechanical instability in the foot. Movement of a misaligned foot can place abnormal pressure on the cartilage tissue in the joint, causing accelerated wear and tear. Paula herself may have once suffered from such a biomechanical instability, which could cause these problems further down the line. As a result early treatment is essential to ensure continuing foot health. A biomechanical instability is usually a case of the foot over-pronating (rolling in) or over-supinating (rolling out). Symptoms include pain in the arch, heel and ball of the foot, as well as associated leg, knee and back pain. There is typically either a low arch or no arch at all in over-pronators and a very high arch in over-supinators.
Anyone who thinks they may have a biomechanical instability in the foot should seek advice from a healthcare practitioner. A podiatrist or a physiotherapist will be able to carry out a biomechanical assessment of the foot, to confirm any existing condition. If an imbalance is present they will also advise on a range of insoles, such as Equiflex, Trio or Quadrastep, which can provide support and restore correct alignment to the imbalanced foot.