The Jammer may be referred to as a high arch foot which takes shock poorly. A recent study on high-arch injuries revealed that the higher the arch, the greater the risk of injury.
The subjects in the study with high arches were 2.4 times more prone to injury than the flat-footed subjects. A high arch foot or absorption foot (heel inverted away from the midline of the body) causes more weight to be placed on the outer border of the foot, which may lead to structural and muscular imbalances.
The athlete with a high arch foot type will often complain of heel pain with associated Achilles tendonitis at the back of the heel cord. This may lead to bursitis and/or heel spur formation. The tight heel cord, or Achilles tendon, also contributes to pain on the plantar (bottom) aspect of the foot. This condition of plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissues covering the muscles on the bottom of the foot that connect the toe muscles to the heel bone. If this condition persists, a heel spur may develop.
During this gait cycle in the high arch foot, more weight is hitting on the outside of the foot as the heel contacts the ground, which can result in injury to small nerves creating a heel neuroma. Also, the weight moves forward on the ball of the foot and shifts to the outside edge, often resulting in irritation to the small toe-metatarsal joint. Increased irritation can cause an enlargement of the joint, or Tailor's bunion.
There is also a muscle imbalance in the high arch foot type, which may result in contracted toes, or hammertoes. Also, further muscle imbalance causes more weight to be placed on the ball of the foot creating callous build-up.
To prevent problems, the person with a high arch foot should select his athletic shoes very carefully. He should especially be concerned with a shoe that has good shock absorption and a firm heel counter. It is best to stay away from any shoes that are designed to control over pronation (inward rotation)--shoes that have heel wedges that will push the foot outward.
If an injury continues, it is important to seek professional help. In many cases, physical therapy, stretching and strengthening exercises, and proper balancing with a mechanical orthotic foot insert is all that is needed for relief of symptoms.
Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Weiss has a practice in Darien; The Foot & Ankle Institute of Darien, and resides in Westport. For information, visit his Web site at www.therunning doctor.net.