Page 14 - Bauerfeind life magazine

magazine 2013/1
Pictures: Stefan Durstewitz, doc-stock/
>>> Describing endurance sports as “mate­
rial testing for the body” may sound some­
what cynical, but that is essentially what
they are. The feet are subjected to enormous
loads. In long-distance running, for example,
they constantly have to absorb the repeated
impact of each tread, distribute the load
and convert the energy into new movement.
Given the forces at work on the muscles, liga­
ments and bones of the foot, any athlete who
can withstand this material testing is already
demonstrating significant talent: jump­
ing exerts a force of four to five times’ an
athlete’s body weight on the foot, while even
running can subject the foot to a load equal
to the body weight multiplied by three.
Any talented athlete who can endure this
torture on a lasting basis has solid found­
ations to build on. Twenty-six bones make
up the basis of the foot, while an even
higher number of joints, capsules, tendons
and muscles form longitudinal and trans­
versal arches. This structure is what makes
a healthy foot so flexible. The cushioning
properties of the body’s lowest extremity
are supported by fat pads. Normally, all the
absorbing and dynamic characteristics of
the foot architecture function with remark­
ably few problems, but only up to a certain
limit, at which point the exposed position
of the foot makes it vulnerable, in spite of
its extraordinary flexibility: this can result
in problems associated with overloading –
including in the Achilles tendon.
Eighty kilometers per week
are enough
The maximum load a foot can bear var­
ies greatly depending on the individual,”
explains Associate Professor Dr. Martin
Engelhardt, Chief Orthopedic Physician
in the Orthopedics and Trauma and Hand
Surgery Clinic at Klinikum Osnabrück.
Being a specialist in sports medicine, Dr.
Engelhardt was the Chief Orthopedist for
the German Olympic team. It is clear what
he means by individual differences, but the
load-bearing limit of the foot is difficult to
determine in practice. What is the patient’s
level of fitness? What previous damage has
the foot suffered? Are there any anatomical
peculiarities? These questions have to be
answered not only with regard to determin­
ing maximum loads, but also to obtain a
precise diagnosis of problems relating to
overloading. “The state of the patient’s
constitution is also important, and that’s
what I start with,” says the physician. “There
is the question of the starting level. Before I
started actively participating in sport, a low
load situation was enough to provoke an in­
jury.” A dilemma of the modern age becomes
apparent here: we want to do ­something, but
Chief Physician and Associate Professor Dr. Martin Engelhardt is a triathlete himself.