As runners and walkers our feet are crucial to our happiness but we tend to neglect them and only realise quite how important they are when something goes wrong!
One of our runners recently found this out the hard way when his foot became infected after running in the mud (he had a wound on his foot which meant germs could get in).
Take care of your feet and they will look after you rewarding you with many happy hour on the trails.
Here’s some simple tips:
- Soak after a run or long walk. Epsom salts are good because they have anti inflammatory properties.
- Make sure you keep your feet clean especially around toe nails where dirt can lurk. Women runners joke about hiding ‘runners toenails’ with dark polish but make sure it’s not hiding ingrained dirt too!
- Wear appropriate footwear to the activity, preferably fitted and recommended by an expert like Sutton Runner.
- Go waterproof – I can highly recommend buying waterproof trainers or boots. We do NOT need trail shoes for the type of surface we run on, you will find them too hard. A good pair of road trainers with a waterproof lining is what you need. If water can’t get in then neither can the mud!
You may have heard people talking about Plantar Facilitis because, unfortunately, it is a fairly common condition especially as we get older and for those of us who run or walk a lot. It is damage to the part of your foot that connects the heel bone to the toes (the plantar fascia). It comes as pain in the bottom of the foot usually around the heel and arch. You can usually tell it’s Plantar Facilitis because the pain is worse after sleep or rest, it might go away during exercise (it might not) but return after rest.
With Plantar Facilitis there is no quick cure all. I’ve known several people who suffer from it, including me and John, and different things work for different people so it’s worth experimenting. Generally the following are worth a try:
One of the reasons it can take so long to heal is because it’s tricky to get blood flowing to the base of the foot. Massage your feet before bed – if mine are particularly bad I’ll massage mine with some Ibuprofen gel! Use a tennis ball or buy little foot massage tools to roll under your foot while you are sitting (at your desk for example).
Wear the Right Shoes
As mentioned above ensure you have properly fitted boots or trainers for exercise. In addition look at the shoes you wear day to day and make sure they aren’t making the situation worse. Very flat shoes or pumps are to be avoided and flip flops are the absolute worst! If you’re on your summer holiday and need to wear flip flops invest in a make that comes with some support for the sole of the foot.
Visit a Podiatrist
Give your feet a health checkup. This is useful for all sorts of feet issues. A podiatrist can give you a biomechanical assessment of your gait which may highlight potential problem areas. In my experience podiatrists will often recommend some kind of insole for your trainers. There’s mixed research on the efficacy of such insoles. However I do know several runners who absolutely swear by the results after using theirs so it’s well worth investing although I can’t promise instant results for you!
Strengthen the Feet
Exercises to mobilise and strengthen the feet will help to avoid some of the problems discussed above. My favourite is to roll up onto toes and down onto the foot on alternate feet. Simple to do as part of warm up or standing in a queue. Heel raises, walking on your toes and walking on your heels are also recommended ways to strengthen feet.
Visit your GP
If you are in severe pain, it is stopping you do your normal activities, you have tingling or loss of feeling in your feet or if you are diabetic you should make an appointment with your GP and get it checked out.
Remember folks your feet are your greatest asset, look after them and they’ll look after you!