January 26, 2018
Like many people I know…I HATE FEET…especially other peoples, with the exception of small children that is.
I don’t like looking at them, I don’t like thinking about them…and heck I sure as hell don’t like touching them, which is why I go for a monthly pedicure.
But even then I dismay at the fact that another human being is willing to go anywhere near my feet.
As runners we know that having manky feet kind of comes with the territory, especially when you start reaching the higher distances.
You never forget the first time you forgot to cut your toenails before a race, just like you will never forget the shock of losing your first toenail after a big race or wondering whether to pop or leave a blister.
To some extent we use these toejuries…which of course is not quite as funny as the term mingerys…as a badge of honor.
Or is it just me?
Looking after our feet though, no matter what distance we are running should be up there in terms of importance with stretching after a run, wearing a good sports bra and staying hydrated, yet so often we completely ignore our feet until they start giving us grief and then we realise just how crucial they are to this whole running malarky.
So here are my top 8 ways to look after your feet….and a few things to buy just in case it all goes wrong….which trust me it will at some point.
Wear the right trainers. Do not go for the cheapest pair in the shop or the most expensive, cost is not always the best indicator of whether they are right for you. Get your feet assessed by a professional, and then, by all means, shop online to pick up a bargain if you must. Get new shoes every 300 to 500 miles, but keep an eye on this and look out for telltale signs they need replacing.
Look after your trainers…don’t wear your running ones for the Gym or for cycling in, and if you can rotate them with a second pair as this will preserve their life. Also, remember you need to go up a shoe size in running trainers to allow room for your feet to swell…often missing toenails are a result of shoes that are a bit too small.
Wear decent sports socks. Make sure you put them on properly too. A badly placed seam can cause havoc. I like these ones from Features, and also quite like these funky ones from Stance. I have two sets of socks though, cheaper ones for distances up to 5K and more expensive ones for the longer runs…oh and just so you know, running socks are more annoying than normal socks, they like to dissapear, so you will be replacing them often.
Keep your toenails short…no even shorter than that!!! Check them before every run. If you can’t get to your own toenails to cut them, have regular appointments with a podiatrist or get a loved one to do it for you (Just don’t EVER ask me to do it ha ha)
Keep your feet moisturised. Dry feet is what often causes blisters. Make sure to use moisturiser on your feet after every bath and shower, this will help avoid dry cracked feet and also dare I say it forces you to have a bit of a relationship with those things which are at the end of your legs.
On race days try smothering your feet with lubricant. I always do this for marathons, and have managed on the whole to never get really bad blisters like I hear reported so often. Vaseline does the job quite nicely, but I know a lot of people use specialist lubes (ooooh I say)
Strengthen your feet by exercising them regularly and no I don’t mean by taking them for a run. Use a tennis ball under your feet in circular movements on the ball of your feet, the arch and the heel. Stretch your calves and mobilise your ankles (which are kind of attached to your feet) by stretching while standing on the edge of a step or stair. Here are some brilliant exercises given to me by my local foot doctor…AKA a podiatrist
And on that note…
Seek professional help ASAP if you have any issues…DO NOT WAIT AND HOPE FOR THE BEST. Two weeks ago at the end of a 5 miler I started to feel a slight pain in the arch of my foot, the following day at parkrun there was no denying it…I had a problem.
It was a sign I needed new trainers…but I had left it just a little bit too late and by Saturday evening I was in real pain in both arches no matter what shoes I was wearing or not wearing. The following day I went to my local foot clinic to see a professional podiatrist. He reassured me it wasn’t plantar fasciitis which is what I feared it was, and he gave me some exercises to do at home and made the suggestion I went to see an osteopath or sports physio for some manual maneuvering to relax the muscles.
Two weeks, an osteopathy appointment, daily exercises, and new trainers later and the pain is fully gone and I am ready to continue with my marathon training. Phew!!!
Avoid dodgy everyday shoes. Heels and flats are not your friend while training sadly, especially when training for a big race. Flats can bring on plantar fasciitis…so ditch the flip flops and converse pumps, and heels can stretch the arches…and if you are as clumsy as me lead to all kinds of other injuries if you are not steady on your feet.
In the lead up to a big race where sensible shoes which support your arch, won’t give you blisters and allow your feet to breathe…failing that just walk around in your runners.
Use heat and ice where needed. As long as you don’t have any circulatory troubles dip your feet in a bucket with water and ice for at least 15-minutes after a hard run. If you can’t tolerate the cold for too long, run cold water over them instead.
And if you have inflammation of any sort or just tired feet, a nice foot bath with warm water will give you some relief too. Get into the habit of looking after your feet, experiment with some essential oils…we call this self care ha ha
So obviously prevention is way way better than cure, just like being able to anticipate problems just in case you get caught out. Here are a few products which have been a godsend during my 2 weeks of foot pain, and my 10 years of just about managing to look after my trotters.
- Plantar Fasciitis Socks I find these brilliant for general recovery and support
- Plantar Fasciitis Rocker I have clients who swear by this gadget
- Blister Plasters I defy you to not need these at some point
- Kinesiology Tape – All runners should have this and get to know how to use it
- Tennis Balls for Strength Exercises
- Flip Flops for After a big race (with arch support)
- Rose Quarts (to pop in your socks overnight to promote healing…I know I’m weird)
Please share this blog and look after your feet…whatever you do though, DO NOT SEND ME PICTURES OF YOUR DODGEY FEET, I have enough to deal with my own thanks.