From building endurance to strengthening your feet and legs, running is a great way to keep yourself in shape. However, like all types of exercise, proper form and technique are everything.
Foot injuries often occur when running because of bad shoes or socks, improper foot placement or alignment, and even lack of recovery care afterward, such as massages and stretching. Keep reading to learn five running health tips to keep your feet strong and healthy.
1. Wear the Right Shoes
There are different schools of thought when it comes to shoes. If your feet have no existing problems, a minimalist or “barefoot” shoe may help them stay in their natural alignment while you’re exercising.
However, if you have conditions like bunions, shin splints, or plantar fasciitis, it may be better to start out with shoes that have extra arch support or padding in your problem areas. Look for shoes that are comfortable, durable, well-fitting, and offer support where you need it.
2. Wear a Pair of Good Quality Socks
Although it may be tempting to toss on any old pair of socks you have lying around, this could lead to blisters and other foot problems.
Look for socks that are made of moisture-wicking fabric to keep your feet dry, such as acrylic or polyester, and make sure they go above your ankles to avoid blisters on the back of your heel. Thin socks are also suggested as they prevent your shoes from feeling too tight. You can also opt for “toe socks”, or socks that separate each toe, to reduce friction and rubbing between toes.
3. Cut Your Toenails Regularly
When your toenails are too long, they can repeatedly collide with the front or side of your shoes while running, which can cause painful conditions like blisters and black toenails (otherwise known as runner’s toe).
To prevent these problems, trim your nails regularly and ensure they never get too long. Cut them as straight as possible and round the corners to prevent ingrown nails. You should also take care to leave a little when you trim them to reduce the chance of inflammation.
4. Try Toe Separators for Arch Support
If you have flat feet or high arches, you may be more susceptible to foot problems like plantar fasciitis and shin splints. Toe separators can help alleviate these issues by placing your toes in their correct position and providing support for your arch.
Toe separators come in various forms. Some are meant to go between your big toe and second toe, while others go across all your toes. The latter choice is preferable for runners, as they provide more support and stability. Look for toe separators that are made of comfortable, clean material like silicone and that can be easily adjusted to fit your feet.
5. Give Your Feet a Good Massage
Many athletes recover with relaxing, rejuvenating activities like massages, sauna time, and warm baths, and running is no different. A good foot massage can do wonders for tired, achy feet, especially after a long run. Not only will a massage feel good, but it can also increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, relieve muscle tightness, and help your joints maintain a healthy range of motion.
Running is healthy, but if you’re not cautious, improper foot care can quickly lead to injuries that may have long-term consequences. Fortunately, if you follow these tips and take care of your feet, you can enjoy running for years to come with minimal problems.
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