As a runner, you’re on your feet a lot. That’s why foot care is so important.
In this article, we’ll discuss how runners can take care of their feet to prevent future injuries and to keep their feet comfortable.
Whether you’ve been dealing with discomfort in your feet or if you just want to prevent issues from occurring, this article will tell you all the tips to keep your feet in tip-top shape.
Why Runners Should Care for Their Feet
Quite simply, feet are your foundation for running. If you’re dealing with foot pain, you may be sidelined for a while. To avoid this predicament, you need to constantly be taking care of your feet.
Ignoring your feet can lead to injuries like plantar fasciitis, black toenails, blisters, corns, and other issues. Speaking from personal experience, it can take months for your toenails to get back to normal from something even as minor as black toenails.
How Runners Can Care for Their Feet
We’ve put together a list of things you can do to care for your feet. There’s a good chance that you’re already doing some of the items on this list, but to take the best care of your feet, you really need to do all of it.
1. Wear the Correct Running Shoes
This is the first thing you need to make sure that you’re doing. If you’re doing everything else but don’t have shoes that fit, it’s counterproductive. So go put on your running shoes and make sure that they feel comfortable.
Comfort is key when picking a pair of running shoes. If it doesn’t feel good, it’s going to lead to problems. If you know that you need to get new shoes, go get fitted to ensure that you have the right type of shoe. Most runners are fine with neutral shoes, but some need shoes that are more supportive or control pronation better. The amount of cushioning your shoes have might be a matter of personal preference. But all shoes, plush and minimalist alike, eventually lose their cushioning and need to be replaced. That’s the perfect time to reevaluate whether you are in the right shoes.
Maybe you’ve always used a neutral shoe, but a fitting reveals that stability might be better for you. Just making that small change can have a major impact on your running.
It’s also worthwhile to try different brands if you’re just not loving or even don’t have any strong feelings about the brand you’re in now. Previously, I tended to wear ASICS and didn’t have any issues with them, but New Balance feels so much better.
Finally, check your sizing. Typically, you’ll need to order a ½ size up for running shoes.
Make sure that you have a thumbs width between the front of your shoe and your big toe. If it’s smaller than that, you’re not wearing the correct running shoes for you.
2. Wear Good Moisture-Wicking Socks
You probably don’t wear cotton shirts to run. Instead, you wear a moisture-wicking shirt so you’re not drenched when you come back from a run. But you likely don’t think as much about your feet.
Getting a couple of pairs of good moisture-wicking socks will make all the difference in your runs. My current favorite brand is Swiftwift because they are so good at wicking that even when I step in a little water with them before putting on my shoes, I don’t feel a thing!
Moisture-wicking socks will help keep your feet comfortable and will prevent the dreaded blisters. Although they might cost a little bit more upfront, your feet will thank you every run that you go on!
3. Prevent Blisters
Beyond getting good pairs of socks, you’ll want to ensure that nothing is rubbing the wrong way and causing blisters, especially if you go for a lot of long runs. Putting body glide or petroleum jelly on hot spots will keep your feet safe.
Make sure that you take the time to get used to new running shoes. Wear them around the house for a couple of days before taking them for a short run. Give your feet time to get used to them to avoid blisters.
4. Be Mindful of What Your Wear While Not Running
You’ll want to spend the same amount of thought considering what to wear when you’re not running. Shoes with poor foot support will make your feet hurt even if you use them when you’re not running.
You might want to look into getting a pair of recovery sandals or shoes, which feel great and will protect your feet. These types of summer sandals will also help you cool in the heat.
Make sure that any casual or work shoes you have fit well. And if you’re a woman, you might want to avoid wearing high heels as much as possible.
5. Ice Your Feet Post-Run
One great way to reduce swelling and help your feet recover faster is to ice your feet after a run.
While the first few seconds are pretty uncomfortable, once you get used to the water temperature, it feels great. Your feet will thank you.
6. Moisturize Your Feet
Although we don’t always do it, putting lotion on your skin helps to keep it nice and fresh. This includes your feet, and you shouldn’t hesitate to give them a little TLC. To prevent cracking and dry feet, take time to moisturize your feet.
It might seem a bit lavish, but it’s not. Taking care of your skin, especially on your feet, is part of taking care of your body and staying physically healthy.
So purchase lotion or moisturizer that work for you, and apply daily to your feet.
7. Massage Your Feet
Again, you might feel like massaging your feet is a bit extravagant, but it will really make your feet feel better. Plus, it will help reduce the chance of injuries. If anything is tight, massaging is a great way to get your foot to loosen up.
Better yet, you can kill two birds with one stone by moisturizing your feet and massaging them at the same time. I like to ice my feet after a long run, take a quick hot shower, and then put lotion on my feet and massage them.
Don’t be afraid to enlist help. If you have a significant other or close family member or friend who might be willing to help, tell them massaging your feet is a way that they can support your running!
8. Keep Toenails Trim
While it’s pretty obvious if our fingernails are too long, it can be easy to forget about toenails. However, it’s important to keep them nice and trim to prevent ingrown nails and black toenails.
Additionally, if your nails are long, they can also cut into your toes while you’re running, which definitely isn’t comfortable. So, take the extra five minutes to clip those toenails when they are starting to grow too long.
9. Prevent Athlete’s Foot
This is a very uncomfortable condition that typically occurs when people are wearing tight-fitting shoes and sweat profusely. This goes back to the importance of having running shoes that fit, and good socks.
If you want to avoid a scaly rash that is itchy and burns, then you’ll want to do everything that you can to prevent athlete’s foot. You can make sure that this doesn’t happen to you by keeping your feet dry as much as possible.
10. Strengthen Foot Muscles
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your feet are nice and strong. Doing foot strengthening exercises will help ensure that your feet stay strong.
For example, try toe-curling, which you can do from anywhere. Simply stand on one leg, two legs, or even sit down and curl your toes. You’ll be strengthening and working your intrinsic foot muscles.
Another option is to alternate between shifting your weight to the out edges of your feet and the inner edges. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even try to walk with your feet this way. Make sure that you’re keeping your body upright.
And you can’t forget the easiest way to strengthen your foot muscles: go barefoot. Walking and running barefoot is a great way to make sure that your feet are strong and you’ll also improve your postural stability. So, head for the beach or the grass and go for a run.
Taking care of your feet as a runner is particularly important if you want to be able to run for a long time. Proper foot care makes a huge difference, not only in comfort, but also in preventing injuries.
Making sure that you have the right shoes in all areas of your life, taking the time to massage and moisturize your feet, and doing some foot strengthening exercises will make all the difference. And don’t forget about the importance of cutting those toenails!