Looking after your feet
Updated: Mar 9, 2021
Your feet are wonderful pieces of design, a spring loaded arch for storing and releasing energy, balance and coordination as you run and putting up with all the pounding as you walk and run around each week. So how can you help them out a little and look after them?
One of the top foot questions I get asked is how to prevent blisters. A lot of that is down to your shoes, see this previous post; https://www.ontherunhealthandfitness.co.uk/blog/running-shoe-101
You can also help by getting running specific socks; these have no seams to rub, are made of technical fabric so they wick away the sweat from the skin and don’t get larger as they get wet and fit snugly around your feet.
Another cause of blisters is areas of hard skin that get rubbed back and forth alongside softer skin as you run, the skin right next to the area of hard skin can really suffer and blister as it gets pulled one way and the other. Using a pumice stone on the hard areas of skin, little and often, when you get out the shower or bath and your feet are soft can work really well. I also love “baby bottom butter” as a really thick and easily absorbed moisturiser for the feet.
On long runs I’ll always put a layer of vaseline over my feet inside my socks too, as well as ensuring there are no little bits of debris on my socks or in my shoes before I put them on. Simple and light running gaiters can stop debris entering your shoes and rubbing your feet, especially if you are running on trails.
Toe nails are often a cause for concern with runners. Keep your toe nails short so they don't wear hole in your socks, rub on the toes next door or hit the end of your running shoes - the route to black toe nails. Picking the right shoes with enough room for the toes to lengthen and expand width ways as we land is key too. When trimming your toe nails try not to round off the edges too much as that can increase the risk of ingrown toenails.
There are lots of muscles that control the movement of your feet and toes as well as your balance. Many of these muscles are in fact in your calves, otherwise your feet would be huge! So calf stretching is key, take a look at this post to find out more; https://www.ontherunhealthandfitness.co.uk/blog/love-your-calves
There are some maintenance tips for the feet themselves too;
- rolling the soles of your feet over a tennis ball to massage them
- practicing picking up small objects off the floor with your toes to help mobility in the foot joints
- using your hands to spread out your toes and give them a gentle pull and wiggle, this helps counter the impact of wearing shoes all the time
- go barefoot when you can around the house to let the skin breathe and allow the feet to move differently
One final thing to think about is time on your feet. If you have an active job that involves walking or standing for longer periods or just moving around on your feet a lot bear that in mind when planning your training. The feet themselves and your leg muscles will be working harder and won’t have as much time to recover, so listen to them and rest when they need it.