As a runner, it should come as no surprise that you must take good care of your feet.
After all, they are, literally, the base of every stride you take…
Ignore your feet and they will definitely fail you on the running track. And you don’t want that, do you?
That’s why today I decided to share with you, my dear readers some of the simple stuff I do to take care of my feet.
I admit. I’m not a podiatrist. Actually, I’m not an “official” expert on any subject. What I’m sharing here is the result of my own research and experience.
In fact, I encourage you to do your own research and find what works the best for you.
In the meantime, here is what works for me.
8 Ways to Taking Care of Runner’s Feet
1. Run in the Right Shoes
The first step you need to take to keep your feet happy and healthy is to run in the proper pair of shoes.
And by proper shoes, I’m not talking about the shoe brand, model, and color, but mainly about the shoe fit.
If the shoes are improper—too tight, too loose, or does not feel right—this can lead to a myriad of problems for your feet.
If the shoes are too tight or too short, they can cause black toenails and extreme discomfort. On the other hand, if the shoes are too wide and loose, your feet will tend to slide around the shoe, causing undue friction, and leading to blisters and other painful ailments.
Improper shoes can also result in serious injuries like calluses, ankle sprain, knee injury, and other serious troubles. In fact, according to research, an improper running shoe is one of the leading causes of running injuries among runners of all levels and training backgrounds.
So get the right shoes or it’s no deal.
When looking for a new pair, seek the help of a podiatrist. A few running stores have these shoe-fitting experts on duty, so make sure to use them to your advantage.
Just keep in mind that every runner is different. Some require more support, others offer less cushioning, so you will have to find the right pair for you.
2. Opt For the Right Socks
Picking the right shoes is just the beginning of the story. You will also need to run in the proper socks. In fact, an ill-fitting and/or indecent pair of socks is one of the leading root causes of blisters and other running trouble.
The best socks for running are lightweight and made from water-resistant materials that wick away moisture and are breathable so you can prevent the undue friction that usually leads to blisters.
The good news is that socks are cheaper than shoes. Meaning you can afford to experiment with different socks brands and sizes until you find the ideal pair.
Just keep in mind that you will have to test out the socks with your running shoes. And when you come across the brand, style, and fabric that works the best for you, purchase several pairs, if possible.
In my opinion Wrightsocks are some of the best brands in the market today.
3. Soften your Skin
The skin on our feet tends to be thick, bumpy and dry. The bad news is, as a runner, dry skin can lead to heel fissures, where the dry skin cracks and bleeds, which is baaaad!!
What’s more? The repetitive impact of running can exacerbate the cracks, making them more prone to infection.
As a result, to ward off this trouble, make sure to soften your skin on a regular basis. Rub the moisturizer into the skin until your feet start feeling supple and soft.
Furthermore, these creams and anti-chaffing sticks can help you prevent blister—especially during summer time when the feet get sweatier for longer periods of time.
So if you suffer from blisters on a regular basis, then you MUST apply a moisturizer on a daily basis.
Do not only apply the cream on the skin but also outside your socks to reduce the unnecessary friction—which is the primary cause of blisters anyway.
There are literally hundreds of lubricants and moisturizers in the market that you can use. But I recommend that you use a silicon-based lubricant for the feet as this also helps fend off moisture which is vital for keeping your footsies blister-free and healthy.
BodyGlide and Everstride are some of the best brands out there. I love them, and the foot cream is now something I’m using consistently.
4. Use Ice
As you already know, the feet tend to overheat and swell after each run. One thing you can do to reduce the swelling is put cold therapy to your advantage.
Therefore, make sure to immerse your feet—as long as you don’t have vascular troubles—in a bucket with water and ice for at least 15-minute after a hard run. If you can’t tolerate the cold, then run cold water from a hose over your feet.
Plus, to ease the inflammation, you can also raise your legs and use an ice pack on them. Apply ice on your feet for no more than 15 to 20 minutes, or you will risk frostbite.
5. Stop the Fungus
Known as athlete’s foot, this painful infection causes itchy pain, redness, and blisters on the toes and soles of the feet. And it’s really, really painful.
Here is what to do keep fungus at bay:
Make sure to keep your feet fresh and dry as often as possible. Why? Fungus finds fertile ground in murky; and by keeping your feet clean, you are making it less likely for the condition to arise.
But this is easier said than done. We have about 125,000 sweat glands on each foot (more than anywhere else in the body), and each foot produces about four ounces of sweat a day (roughly an eggcup’s of moisture). So go figure.
Nevertheless, you can increase your of beating this condition by changing your socks regularly and using antiperspirants on your feet.
Plus, keep your toenails short and clean. This will not only prevent the fungus but will also lengthen the lifespan of your socks.
If it’s too late and you have athlete’s foot, then treat it with an over-the-counter fungicide, and take as much rest as needed.
6. Nail and Foot Care
Long nails can get caught in socks and tear the perfect set you just bought. Not only that, untrimmed nails lead to the sort of strain that can create blood pooling under the nail, and a long untrimmed toe can cut the neighboring toes, leading to pain.
As a result, keep a keen eye on your nails and make sure to keep them trimmed on a regular basis. Cut the toenails straight across and then use a file to smooth out the edges of the nails.
7. Work your Toes
The foot region is, like your glutes, core and chest muscles, another “muscle group” that needs strength training.
See, a lot of running injuries can be linked to weak feet. If the muscles around your feet are weak, they will not move the foot into its correct running position.
In other words, you will have less stability in your running gait, which can hinder performance and lead to injury.
Therefore, kick your feet strength up a notch by doing these five excellent exercises. Aim for at least 20 repetitions of each exercise, repeating the exercises for two to three sets a couple of times a week.
Walking on the toes
Foot Circles and Points with Therabands
Stretching the Toe Flexors
Massaging your feet will not only provide with an instant relief but also help you prevent much of the trouble for the long term.
If you can afford to work with a specialist or have a loving partner who is offering to rub your feet regularly, no-strings-attached, that will be awesome. But most of us can’t afford to work with a professional or have someone willing to massage our feet for free.
But there is a solution. Do a bit of self-massage with a tennis ball.
A tennis or a racquetball are some of the best self-massage tools you can use to stretch out those muscles and release any built-up tension and discomfort in your feet, especially in the soles.
This simple massage can reduce the risks of developing running injuries like Plantar Fasciitis and what the hell, it does feel good to release the discomfort—especially after a long hard run.
Here is how.
While standing or sitting, put the ball under the arch of your foot, then roll it along your arch, and apply pressure to any part of your foot calling for more attention.
Find the hot spot—where it hurts the most—and slowly roll the discomfort away. It’s that simple.
Featured Image Credit – Jermore Simpson through Flickr