If you are serious about running you must also be serious about proper runner’s foot care. When you take good care of your feet you can avoid common problems such as calluses, blisters and cracked heels. You can also avoid more serious problems, such as heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, shin splints and knee and hip problems.
In this article, we share 15 smart tips to help keep your feet in great shape for running. Read on to learn more about foot care for runners.
How to take care of runner’s feet
1. Choose the right shoes. Shoe brand is not nearly as important as shoe fit. It’s a good idea to consult with your podiatrist and/or go to a shoe store that employs well trained clerks who know how to fit shoes and are able and willing to help you make the right choice. You need different running shoes for flat feet and different running shoes for Achilles Tendonitis, for example.
Poorly fitting shoes are uncomfortable and can lead to injury. If your shoes are too short or tight, you can end up with bruised, black toenails. If they are too large or wide, you could get blisters or injure yourself due to poor footing. You could sprain your ankle, injure your knees or take a nasty fall with improperly fitted shoes.
2. Socks are just as important as shoes. If your socks fit poorly they will be uncomfortable and can cause blisters, athletes foot and other problems. Choose lightweight, water-resistant, moisture wicking socks that will keep your feet dry and friction-free. You may have to try out a number of different types of socks before you hit on just the right ones. When you find them, stock up on a few pairs!
How to avoid foot injuries from running
3. Take care of foot pain right away. It’s sometimes tempting to ignore small aches and injuries in hopes they will resolve on their own; however, this is seldom the case. If you experience pain or injury, take a break and see your doctor or podiatrist. Remember that Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) can work wonders on a wide variety of foot problems.
4. Cool your feet down after running. Running can cause swelling and inflammation in your feet, so it’s a good idea to cool them down after a run. Here are 3 good ways to do this:
- You can soak your feet in a bucket of ice water (for no more than 15 minutes) as long as you don’t have any vascular problems.
- If that’s too cold for you, a bucket of cool water or a bath with cool running water in the tub or from the hose can be refreshing.
- Go for a swim. The combination of cool water and no impact exercise will cool your feet and stimulate blood circulation to help reduce inflammation.
5. Rest and rejuvenate your feet when you aren’t running. Invest in a massaging foot spa rest and relax your feet and lower legs on non-running days.
6. Take good care of your skin. When you run, you put a lot of pressure on your skin. If it is dry and callused, it can easily crack, leading to pain, bleeding and infection. Be sure to keep your feet moisturised by applying a moisturiser after showering or bathing. Applying moisturiser at night before bedtime is also a good idea. Avoid moisturising between the toes as this can lead to athlete’s foot.
Trail running: Foot care – Runner’s World
7. Use the right padding and orthotics. Good arch supports, cushioned heel seats and insoles can really help support and cushion your feet. Your podiatrist may recommend custom made supports; however, very often high quality, over-the-counter orthotics are just as good at a fraction of the cost.
8. Stretch your whole body before running. Many runners focus on stretching their legs before running but neglect the rest of the body and the feet. Performing full body stretching before running is a great way to avoid injury, improve performance and reap more benefits from the activity. The yoga series known as the Sun Salutation is a great whole body stretching routine that you can use every day.
Sun salutation for beginners
9. Use athletic tape for added support and protection. Firmly taping your heels or around your arch can provide extra support and prevent problems with plantar fasciitis and/or heel spurs. Taping across the ball of the foot can help prevent blistering on the ball of the foot.
10. Choose your running surfaces carefully. Avoid running on very hard surfaces or uneven surfaces. Opt for the grassy verge of the road rather than the asphalt. Choose asphalt over hard concrete. Avoid running on surfaces that may have tripping hazards or uneven aspects that might cause injury.
11. Remember that you are what you eat. You cannot expect to perform well if you don’t eat well. Make sure you get lots of calcium to build strong bones and prevent the development of bone spurs. Avoid junk food and lean more toward an anti-inflammatory diet that will reduce inflammation in your feet, joints and throughout your body.
12. If your feet are painful after a run, try wearing night splints while you sleep. These devices help to gently stretch your tendons and muscles to keep them from tightening up after a challenging run. You will experience less pain the next day if you wear night splints the night of a run.
13. Avoid developing athlete’s foot by keeping your feet fresh and dry. Remember to change your socks on a regular basis. If your feet tend to sweat, get in the habit of applying antiperspirant to the soles. Air your feet regularly and wear sandals when you can. Exposure to air discourages the growth of fungus. If you do develop athlete’s foot, treat it promptly and consistently with a good anti-fungal product and good foot hygiene.
14. Take care of your toenails. Long toenails are prone to fungal infection, and getting rid of nail fungus is much harder than getting rid of athlete’s foot. They also tend to become ingrown, and this is extremely painful. Aside from this, long toenails will damage your socks and shoes. Examine your feet and toenails every day. Trim your nails as needed by clipping them straight across and using a nail file to smooth the edges to prevent snagging your socks or stockings.
15. Exercise your feet. It’s important to exercise your whole body to avoid running injuries, and it’s especially important to exercise and strengthen your feet and toes. If your feet are weak, your gait may be off. This leads to poor performance and may also cause injuries. Strengthen your feet by following this complete foot strength workout several times a week: