Peripheral Arterial Disease Running Puzzle Continues: Muscles of the Feet!

Peripheral arterial disease running

Image purchased with copyright from ShutterStock, Inc.

Hi folks,

I continue my research into the challenge of running with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), as my right popliteal artery is almost completely blocked, and the other one is starting to induce claudication when I run or walk uphill. My right foot is essentially running on collaterals built over a lifetime of training, including the last 20 odd years of Ironman training.

I hit 80 at the end of this month. Damn!

If you don’t think training makes a difference to your later years, just look at the image below. I show it to doctors all the time, who generally yawn and offer me statins and beta-blockers. Whatever! Makes no sense to this old fart, but I am a veterinary pathologist by training. One who knows that exercise, diet and lifestyle beat pills (almost) every time (there are exceptions).

peripheral arterial disease running
MRI scans through the thighs of three guys. Grey is muscle, white is fat, clear ring around the central white spot (bone marrow) is the femoral bone. Note the loss of both muscle and bone mass in the sedentary guy. If I can do this with my thighs, why not my feet?

I was doing some easy hill repeats the other day, thinking about the ideas in my PAD book, when I thought, “What about training those muscles in my feet a little more, because underneath tightness lies weakness, and tight muscles don’t perfuse with blood very well.” So I started working to engage those foot muscles shown in the image above, by grasping the ground with my whole foot (through my shoes, of course). It was like I was grabbing the ground with my feet to throw myself forward, which soon led to those muscles aching and complaining like crap.


A few weeks later those muscles don’t complain so much, and this work is definitely helping my hill repeats. You can’t afford to give into this stuff, because you’ll lose your feet and life-style eventually. It’s all about learning how to work with and push your body by experimenting to find out what works.

peripheral arterial disease running
As I say on my website, WrongNameBooks, old age doesn’t have to be like this.

I should know, as I’ll be 80 in a few weeks, and I’m training for the Worlds Half Ironman Championships, to be held in Finland, in August, 2023.

Yes! I qualified!

Happy trails, painful or not.

-kev aka FitOldDog

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.