Paula Radcliffe Looking To Medal in Marathon after Bunion Surgery

British marathoner Paula Radcliffe lately has been plagued by injuries. In fact, she had to pull out from this weekend's London marathon after breaking a toe. She since has had bunion surgery and is hoping the realigned foot mechanics will end her long stream of injuries. After running the marathon for the Beijing Olympics just four months after breaking a leg, she is focused on her 2012 goal of medaling in the London Olympics, her home city.

A bunion is an enlargement of the great toe joint. It, however, is not from a growth of bone, but rather a shifting of the first metatarsal bone due to unstable mechanics. The forces causes the great toe to shift towards the second to and the metatarsal bone to shift out of alignment. Bunion surgery, when necessary, realigns the relationship of the bones, but does not alter the underlying mechanics that caused the bunion in the first place. If left uncontrolled, the bunion can return over time and can even require a second surgery.

The best way to balance the lower extremity is with the use of a custom orthotic. An orthotic redistributes the mechanical pressures, permitting the feet to function as a more stable unit. This allows for more a more efficient gait in walking and running. It also helps to moderate the deforming forces that caused the bunion in the first place.

In 2012, Paula Radcliffe will be 38 years old. It is not unheard of for a woman of 38 to win Olympic gold in the maraton. Constantina Dita of Romania won the Beijing marathon this past summer at the same age. Lets just hope that Paula is able to rehabilitate and resume her training, injury free, while taking all the necessary precautions to allow her body to function at peak performance.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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