Having two healthy feet is something most people take for granted. Until one gets injured. Foot care is often overlooked by runners who stretch hamstrings, quads and calves but miss their most important part. Even when hitting the gym for strength training, a group class or round on the elliptical, those two feet take more impact than any other body part. Almost all athletes will experience some kind of foot pain during their adventures, but here are a few foot care tips to keep you healthy.
Find the right shoes. If your shoes are too loose, they can rub, causing blisters, too narrow and you are susceptible to callouses and if they’re too short, toenails can turn black. When you buy running shoes, do so from a reputable running store, rather than from a big box chain where your sales person might not even be a runner.
Once you have the correct shoes, it’s important to know when it’s time for new ones. Most shoes are good for 300-500 miles, but it depends on the wear they get. A good way to extend shoe life is by alternating pairs, especially if they get wet. Putting wet shoes near a heater or in a dryer will cause them to shrink, potentially causing a myriad of problems. By having alternate shoes to wear, you can let wet ones dry out naturally and not risk changing their fit on your foot.
Socks. There are a ton of socks out there, and you want to be sure you’re running in the ones that are right for you. Wet or cotton socks will lead to blisters, while other materials, such as acrylic, can help protect your feet from rubbing by pulling sweat and moisture away. You might need to vary your sock choice based on the weather, a light sock won’t be equally fit for a speed workout and racing a half marathon. Although there are lots of choices, socks are fairly inexpensive, so try different brands, fabrics and cuts until you find what works best.
Keep your feet dry. This can be hard if you’re running in the rain, on the trails, in snow or on the beach. Waterproof trail shoes are a great choice for those who brave nature, but for those who run mostly on pavement or a treadmill, the answer is usually to wear moisture wicking fabrics, never start with damp or wet socks and shoes and carry an extra pair.
Massage your feet once a week by rolling them on golf balls, a rolling pin or wooden foot roller. You can head into most sporting goods stores and find all kinds of foot care products that are built to help you stay on them. Not only will a foot massage relax those hard working muscles, it’ll give you a few minutes to chill out and take a break.
Do foot and ankle strengthening exercises and be barefoot as much as possible to make weak foot muscles strong. If the muscles in your ankles and feet are weak, your foot won’t go straight ahead while you run, and you’ll miss out on a lot of power, and speed, stronger ankles and feet can provide.