Foot care is essential for any runner, because every stride you take depends on how healthy your feet are. They take the most amount of impact when running, so how comfortable and effective your run is depends on how well you are looking after your feet. A majority of people tend to focus on toned abs, hamstrings and thighs, but we often neglect that which is most important. Knee injuries are common, and often fussed over (with good reason), but in a research conducted by Runners World magazine, it was revealed that one in five runners had had a foot injury in the last 12 months. What’s worse… more severe problems associated with the hips, thighs and the shin arise with problematic feet, and most of these don’t show up before the age of 35.
Happy feet make happy runners, and here are a few tips to serve as reminders:
1. Avoid heels
Everyone likes to make a ‘tall’ impression, but studies have proven that heels are bad for any purpose, be it fashion or sport. Any shoe with a heel that measures more than one inch (i.e 2.5cm) changes the natural position of the ankle making it more prone to sprains. Calf muscles are also tightened, and this overall change in posture can backfire on you by aggravating your hips, back and knees. So no matter how fancy or technologically advanced a running shoe might claim to be, judge it first by the height of its heel. Don’t go for completely flat shoes either, because a certain level of cushioning is imperative for a comfortable run.
2. Wiggle your toes
Width also needs to be factored in when buying a good pair of shoes. Always make sure your toes aren’t too cramped inside the shoe, and have room for a good wiggle! Footwear that narrows at the forefoot can lead to black toenails, corns, nerve pains and so on. On the other hand, an excess amount of space can cause undue friction that might lead to blisters and corns.
3. Shoe shrinkage
No, you weren’t crazy if you thought your shoes had shrunk after your splash in the puddles. Shoes do shrink, especially after rains, and even more if you expose them to heat immediately after they get wet. When this happens, remove your insoles and laces, and let them dry at room temperature. Shoes that get wet a lot harden at the soles, and this should be a sort of expiry date for you to discard your shoes.
4. Socks matter!
Wrong sized socks, dampness and materials that don’t allow your feet to breathe can all lead to blisters. Cotton is most recommended, but the same fabric might not be suitable for all. This aspect is something you need to decide on through trial and error alone, and once you find the appropriate pair, stick to it.
5. Pamper your feet
Don’t save your pedicures only for salon visits. And men- don’t shy away from them. Moisturizing your feet, keeping them soft and preventing cracks is vital to be able to run well. If your skin is naturally oily, keep your feet dry with moisturizers, and if your skin is dry, opt for petroleum jelly-based creams for lubrication. Avoid running with damp shoes or socks at any time, because fungal infections are a runner’s enemy. But you can also help your feet cool down by soaking them in cold water soon after a run. A massage always helps once in a while, so allow yourself to indulge! Ultimately, if it’s going to boost performance, then why not?