The biomechanically weak foot, especially in the younger athletes, can not only have symptoms in the foot itself but also the ankle, leg and knee.

A problem in the foot can cause secondary troubles anywhere from the sacroiliac joint to the forefoot. That's the reason we have to' have a thorough understanding of the biomechanics of the body from the back all the way down the entire leg to the foot. You can't separate one factor from the other.

All sports present their own type of overuse syndrome. Distance runners' problems include the knee, heel and Achilles' tendon.

The long distance runner is subjected to shin splints and ankle troubles as well.

Sprinters, who run on the balls of their feet, develop bunions and tight posterior muscles. Basketball players have a high incidence of hammertoes. All athletes are subjected to recurrent lateral ankle sprains.

The orthopedic approach to the overuse syndrome has been very successful, and most important in young athlete with immature bone growth that take constant pounding in their restive sport.

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Fact box

By the orthopedic approach, we mean the establishment of motions and positions which will cause maximum function of the foot and the entire skeletal system so that there will be a postural and structural balance.

In biomechanical balancing, we attempt to cause the feet to function as close to their neutral position as possible. Neutral position duplicates the joint positions assumed by a normal foot on standing and when running.

Many of the problems leading to the Overuse Syndrome can be treated by biomechanical balancing. In Sports Medicine, this is accomplished by functional sports orthotic. A functional sports orthotic or a functional orthotic, used for people on their feet for many hours during the day, is a device which controls motion and position of the foot and leg during locomotion. It is well-tolerated and usually results in improved foot function with athletes and people who walk in their daily life to prevent injury.

Dr. 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 is a veteran of 35 Marathons and has a practice in Darien: The Foot & Ankle Institute of Darien. For more information, visit www.therunningdoctor.net.