Happy Feet! A Runner’s Guide for How to Avoid Foot Injuries
Runners are the first to tell you that their feet take a beating and foot injuries are common. After all, it is your feet that carry you through those long runs. From blisters to blackened toenails and the list goes on, if you want your feet to take care of you, you have to take care of your feet.
Foot Injuries Are No Joke
Here are a few of the most common foot injuries:
1. Plantar fasciitis
The plantar fascia tendon runs down the length of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tendon that causes a sharp stabbing pain along the bottom of the foot. It’s an overuse injury that can sideline a runner for months. To prevent plantar fasciitis, find a good pair of shoes with an orthotic insert and replace your shoes every 500 miles.
2. Extensor tendonitis
The tendon that runs along the top of the foot can become inflamed causing a foot injury called extensor tendonitis. These tendons move along the top of the foot and are used to straighten and pull each toe up. When you wear improper shoes, have a tight Achilles, or excessively weak calf muscles–it can cause this form of tendonitis.
Blisters are a painful injury caused by excessive friction when socks or shoes rub against the skin. While blisters are normally not dangerous, popping a blister with a dirty needle can cause a serious infection. Plus, blisters can cause runners intense pain.
4. Black toenails
Black toenails are usually caused by excessive trauma from the front of the shoe striking the same toe(s) over and over again. It’s most common for runners training for marathons and it usually ceases once runners cut back on training. Getting shoes that fit correctly can also help.
Steps to Keep Your Feet Healthy
Foot maintenance is the key to keeping your feet looking and feeling good. These steps can help:
1. Choose the right shoe.
Make sure you choose running shoes that fit properly and provide proper support. The best way to find perfectly fitting shoes is to go to a running store and get fitted. Take notes so you know for the future, because as noted above, running shoes need to be replaced every 500 miles. Most runners replace their shoes too late, which can cause injury.
2. Choose the right socks.
Socks that are too loose often cause blisters. That’s why it’s important to spend as much time ensuring your socks fit as you do your shoes. Experiment with what fit works best for you on shorter runs rather than the big marathon you’ve been training for all summer. Lightweight, breathable socks can also help wick away sweat, which can cause foot fungus.
3. Soak your tootsies.
Soak your feet regularly. Epsom salts are a good choice because they contain magnesium, which is good for reducing foot pain. To make a foot soak, add 1/2 cup of Epsom salts to a large bowl of warm water along with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Soak your feet for at least 15 minutes each day.
4. Lather up.
Treat your feet to a nice daily massage. Foot massage is doubly effective because it prevents dry skin on the feet from cracking and it relaxes the tendons that can become inflamed from overuse.
- With about a dime size portion of lotion in one hand, start by working the inner soles of each foot. Keep the fingers behind and the thumbs on the inner soles of the foot.
- Individually massage each toe, starting at the base of the toe and working out toward the toenail.
- Finally, work the top of the foot, massaging toward your toes along the veins of the foot.
5. Get professional help.
Getting a pedicure isn’t just a luxury reserved for those that want gorgeous tootsies, it’s also helpful for foot maintenance. A trained pedicurist can trim your toenails, remove painful callouses, moisturize your feet, and give you a fabulous foot massage. They’re also a great way to treat yourself after a long run. Make sure you get a pedicurist that’s trained in dealing with runner’s feet. Ask fellow runners or even your podiatrist for a good recommendation.
What are your secrets for keeping your tootsies in tip top shape? We want to know! Drop us a line via Twitter @EcoSalon.
Image of sneakers via Shutterstock
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