Your feet take the full impact of every step you walk, jog, skip or run. Working to protect your feet from injury and ailment is one of the best ways to make sure your running season isn’t cut short. Home to 100+ ligaments, 33 joints and 26 bones, neglecting your feet can, and for many runners eventually does, lead to some seriously not fun problems like athlete’s foot, blisters and plantar fasciitis. Use these five tips to take care of your feet and stay healthy all season long.
Find the right shoes. One of the best ways to protect your feet is to wear the correct shoes. There are thousands of options available, making sure you’ll find the right one might take a little work. Try different brands and models after you have a special fitting and make sure they’re big enough to let your toes spread out. Too small shoes lead to black toenails while too narrow shoes mean blisters and too little support can cause IT band pain, plantar fasciitis and potentially stress factures.
Love those shoes. Keep tabs on the treads and retire them before the materials are completely degraded, typically 300-500 miles. Know that wear and tear also depends on what type of runner you are. If you run on roads rather than trails, if you’re heavy or tall, if you stride isn’t smooth, shoes can wear out sooner.
You’ll also want to invest in more than one pair for those rainy days. Wet shoes are not only heavy, they can lead to blisters, itching and fungus. Dry wet shoes by removing the insoles and placing them in indirect heat out of the sunlight while you’re out running in another pair.
Wear good socks. Your feet will sweat. With 125,000 sweat glands, it’s inevitable. Wearing good socks will help your feet stay dry and can help prevent fungi like athlete’s foot from developing. Lightweight, breathable, moisture wicking socks are the best way to protect your feet from dampness and always have a clean, dry pair handy. Dry shoes and dry socks are a good way to prevent foot and toenail fungus from ruining your next run.
Give them a rub down. Your feet take a beating during any run and a little extra attention after a workout can help them stay happy and healthy. A self-massage with your hands, a lacrosse ball, a foot roller or even a golf ball is a great way to relax and recover. You can also try a professional massage or even step up to reflexology.
Strong feet are healthy feet. I wrote about this here, too, but it can’t be said enough. Your feet are an integral part of making running a miserable experience or an awesome one. The stronger they are, the safer they’ll be. Strengthen and protect your feet by practicing barefoot one leg balance, wearing flat shoes, or no shoes at all, as often as possible.
Use these five tips to protect your feet from fungus, blisters and muscle strains so you can stay on the road all season long.