Foot Care for Runners

07/05/13 8:54 AM

foot care for runnerAs the weather becomes kinder and invites us outside, this is a good time to review foot care and the special needs for running feet.

Most important piece of advice is to pay attention.  “My dogs are barking,” may not be taken literally but your feet can communicate with you.  If there is pain, don’t ignore it.  It is possible to run while you have a hairline fracture or other problem and pushing through the pain will not make the situation better.  In fact, too much running can even cause stress fractures.

Groom your feet.  Black toenails or “runner’s toes” happen when the nail hits the inside of the running shoe and causes bleeding below the surface of the nail bed.  Keeping toenails trimmed isn’t just for vanity but for the health of your feet.  Grooming is also an opportunity to spend a little close up time; take a look at your toes to make sure everything looks healthy.

Don’t assume calluses are part of the price you must pay for running.  They develop where the foot is exposed to repetitive pressure.  They might be indications that your foot is moving incorrectly while you are running or that you are unbalanced – a body can be stronger on one side.  Your body will compensate for this and put you at risk for other injuries such as Achilles tendinitis, runner’s knee, and shinsplints.  Take calluses as an early warning sign and see a podiatrist.  The solution might be as simple as a new shoe with proper support.

Same rules apply for bunions.  When joints in the big toe face extra pressure, a bony protrusion can form as the toe moves out of alignment.  Addressing the problem early can avoid surgery.

Toe cramps or general pain might be neuroma and caused by running hills.  It might be best to stick to flat terrain to help this problem or your shoes may be too tight.

Pain in the heel or arch might be Plantar fasciitis, which is when the connective fibers on the bottom of the foot become inflamed where they attach to the heel bone.  One of the best treatments for this is exercise to strengthen the toes and feet or stretching to relax leg muscles, which tend to tighten as a side effect of Plantar fasciitis.  A trained therapist such as one from Physical Therapy Center of Bristol can help you move correctly again.

It’s really important to get the right shoe in the right size.  It’s penny wise and pound foolish to get a good bargain on a shoe that won’t provide proper support, absorb shock, and keep the foot stable.

If you do experience an injury, ice will help reduce swelling and pain.  A day or two of rest should fix everything but, if not, then it’s time to seek professional advice.

Missing a few days of running is nothing compared to having unhappy feet for the rest of your life.

If you are having trouble with your feet, don’t prolong the pain. Call a physical therapist professional and get your feet looked at right away.

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