Running is a great way to stay fit, but if you want to avoid injuries, you need to make your feet a top priority. Here are seven tips that can help you do just that.
Every year, millions of people in the United States enjoy regular running sessions as part of their fitness routine, hitting their local roads and off-road trails to improve their physical health and emotional well-being. And running really is good for you — in fact, the American Heart Association recommends this vigorous-intensity activity for maintaining cardiovascular health.
Not surprisingly, healthy feet have a direct effect on your running routine as well as on your orthopedic health. If you run, protecting your feet should definitely be a priority.
As a top-rated podiatry practice in Richmond, Virginia, Richmond Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates helps runners learn important techniques for protecting their feet and preventing problems in the future. Whether you run regularly or just occasionally, these tips from Weston Angermeier, DPM, and Rachel Hensley, DPM, can help you put your feet first.
Don’t skimp on shoes
Most runners know it’s important to choose a shoe with good arch support and plenty of room in the toes, but when they get to the store, the wide selection of options can be daunting. Too often, a runner winds up buying a popular brand or style with little understanding of how that shoe will work with their foot shape, size, and mechanics.
Our team can make shoe recommendations based on all those factors and more. You should also buy your shoes from a reputable seller that specializes not just in athletic shoes, but in running shoes specifically.
Don’t ignore your daily-wear shoes, either. The shoes you wear when you’re not running have a big impact on your foot health, too. Choose all your shoes based on superior fit and support, and forget about sacrificing comfort for the latest fads.
Socks are important, too
When it comes to runner’s footwear, shoes seem to get all the love. But socks play a critical role, too. It’s your sock that adds a layer of essential protection between your shoe and your foot.
Choose high-quality socks that provide softness and moisture absorption, and make sure they fit properly to avoid friction against your skin. Thick socks are fine, as long as they don’t cause crowding inside your shoe.
Warm up before heading out
A proper warm-up isn’t just important for your leg muscles and joints, it’s essential for your feet, too. Taking some time to stretch your feet and ankles ensures there’s plenty of blood flow to your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. It also helps dispel any muscle stiffness that could lead to painful cramps.
Be aware of terrain
Trail running comes with a lot of unknown obstacles to pay attention to, but even running on pavement can cause problems if you unexpectedly land your foot on a rock or some rubble.
Be aware of the surface you’re running on, so you can make sure you’re planting your feet correctly and avoiding potential injuries. This is especially important if you wear earbuds while running, because it’s easier to get distracted.
Sweaty or damp feet increase friction between your shoe and your foot, and it can also lead to fungal infections. Take an extra pair of socks to change into after a run, and make sure your shoes dry out completely before you wear them again.
Don’t be tempted to dry your shoes in the sun or in front of a heater, which can cause them to shrink. If you don’t have time to dry your shoes in between your runs, invest in a second pair and alternate them each time you head out.
…But moisturize, too
Keeping your feet dry is important for foot health, but it’s also important to keep your skin from drying out and cracking — another common way for fungal infections to take hold. Wash your feet every day and pamper them with a little moisturizer massaged deeply into your skin. The ideal time is right before you get in bed, so your feet have several hours to soak in the healing benefits.
Take any pain seriously
Some foot pain is undeniable and obviously requires prompt medical attention. But even milder, more subtle pain symptoms often call for a doctor’s expert care. That’s because mild discomfort can change the way you run, altering the biomechanics of your gait and stride and increasing the likelihood of injuries or even long-term disability.
Seeking medical care early is the best way to avoid these problems and attain fast symptom relief. If you’re having issues with your feet, or if you’d just like to learn all the ways you can keep your feet healthy and strong, our seasoned podiatry team is here to help.