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One in three who take up a new exercise regime quit after suffering an injury

One in three who take up a new exercise regime quit after suffering an injury

January is the most popular time for thousands to start a fitness regime, however a new survey suggests that many quit exercising almost as soon as they start – potentially due to poor preparation. More than a third (37%) of those who take up exercise end up suffering an injury that stops them continuing and six percent of respondents reported injuries so severe that they had to take time off work.

Half of those surveyed had taken up exercise to try to lose weight or keep fit, with the most popular fitness activities including running and going to the gym (18%). The new research  from the College of Podiatry reveals that the most common complaints reported after starting a new regime were knee pain (15%), calf pain (9%), foot (8%) and heel pain (7%) and back injuries (7%). It’s hardly surprising therefore that 22% of those who embarked on a new exercise regime admitted to abandoning it within the week, while a further one in 20 (6%) have injured themselves so badly that they had to take time off work.

Nine percent say they injured themselves by exercising as if they were younger, 14% admit they hadn’t stretched properly, 16% say they took too much exercise too soon and 7% blamed not wearing the right footwear. 

Consultant podiatrist Matthew Fitzpatrick from the College of Podiatry explains why he believes many of these injuries could have been prevented: “The results suggest that too many people are not preparing correctly before starting a new exercise regime. By taking simple steps like stretching properly before and after exercise and having the correct footwear for the task – especially if you are running or visiting the gym – can make the difference between a successful start to getting fit or having to give up due to injury. 

“Running puts a huge amount of strain on our feet, which is why it is vital that we look after them and do what we can to prevent – or at least minimise – some of the problems and conditions that are linked to running. When we run, our body weight is multiplied by up to seven times, with our feet bearing the brunt of this impact at every stride – that’s a lot of stress on our poor feet! In fact, our research found that one third of those surveyed have experienced heel pain at some time, with 53% of those claiming it stopped them going to work, the gym or playing sport, which is why we encourage people to take measures to prevent these injuries.”

Matthew shares his top tips for keeping your feet healthy during the New Year’s work out:    

  1. Get your running shoes fitted by a specialist – go to a reputable sports shop and explain to the fitter what type of distance you intend to run. Trainers for long distance should be half a size bigger than your normal shoe size as your feet tend to swell during long runs. Don’t hang onto running shoes forever if you use them regularly. Your running shoes have approximately 450-500 miles of life as over time they become stretched and lose their shock absorbency – but again this is linked to the level of activity you undertake. 
  2. Don’t scrimp on socks – people often focus on the shoe and neglect the type of sock they wear, but ill-fitting socks are one of the main causes of blisters. Blisters sound minor but they can have a massive impact on your performance as they can be very painful. While we would usually recommend cotton socks for everyday wear because they are breathable, they are not the best material for running as they absorb moisture. A damp foot increases the risk of painful blisters. Go for a specific running sock made from a material which will help wick away sweat. Make sure the sock fits properly so it isn’t bunching or too tight on your toes.

  3. Know how to keep your feet dry to avoid athlete’s foot – it’s called athlete’s foot for a reason, as it tends to affect people who do a lot of exercise. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection which is most likely to occur if your feet regularly experience damp, warm conditions – common if you’re running! It tends to occur most often between the toes but can appear on any part of the foot. Look out for persistent flaking, red skin. This can look either wet or dry; both are forms of athlete’s foot. You can get over-the-counter remedies, including treatments that specify they only need to be applied once – this tends to be the most convenient solution as often people forget to apply other treatments regularly, which can mean they are not as effective. 

  4. Don’t run through pain – if you experience frequent and ongoing pain in your feet, ankles and legs when you run, this could be a sign that your footwear isn’t right or you have a musculoskeletal issue in your lower limbs that needs addressing. Don’t run through pain as this can cause long-term damage. See a podiatrist who will be able to diagnose the issue and advise on treatment.

  5. Stretch those lower limbs – general calf and lower limb stretching should be an integral part of your training programme when warming down. This helps with ensuring you allow your body to recover as well as help prevent tears and localised damage.


For more information on foot health or to find a podiatrist in your area, please visit the College of Podiatry website at www.cop.org.uk  

[1] Survey of 2,000 people undertaken by the College of Podiatry in December 2018


Notes to Editors:

About The College of Podiatry

The College of Podiatry is the academic authority for podiatry in the UK, and an independent charity dedicated to foot health research, education and public awareness. The College is the professional body for UK registered podiatrists. Podiatry is the field of medicine that specialises in diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders of the foot, lower limb and associated structures.

For further information about the College of Podiatry or Foot Health Month or to speak to a podiatrist, please contact:

Taryn Glenister / Cat Cambridge / Kathryn Race
Ceres PR
0118 475956

The College of Podiatry - www.cop.org.uk