Whether you run, participate in competitive sports or just train hard at the gym, it’s important to take care of your feet. After all, they’re your most important asset, and they take a serious beating each time you train, play a game or hit the track.
Giving your foot some extra TLC can go a long way in helping improve your performance and ensure that you can keep doing what you love. Even top athletes suffer from common issues like plantar fasciitis, swelling, and even foot arch problems. But following a few simple steps before hitting the courts could make a big difference.
How can you take care of your feet? Here are ten special care tips for runners and athletes.
It may sound like an obvious tip, but you’d be surprised by how many athletes and runners are wearing the wrong shoes.
There’s still quite a bit of argument about pronation. But most physios agree that if you have issues with over-pronation, you need extra support to prevent ankle and knee injuries.
Ideally, your trainers should be lightweight and unstructured so that your feet can correctly interact with the floor.
Finding the right fit will be the biggest challenge. Make sure that your shoes aren’t too tight or loose. Improperly-fitting shoes can lead to injuries, blisters, calluses and other issues.
The socks you wear are almost as important as your shoes. If they don’t fit properly, they can cause discomfort and blisters. Ideally, your running socks should be lightweight and made of water-resistant materials.
If you’re dealing with swelling, pain, or achy feet, you may want to invest in special therapeutic socks, like Mindinsole compression socks. They provide special adjustable focal straps for support to alleviate aches and pains while reducing swelling. You can even wear Mindinsole Compression Socks for back pain relief, though for that purpose there is also NeckRelax.
Many runners and athletes struggle with dry feet, which can lead to painful cracking feet. To prevent this from happening, use a moisturizing foot cream every day. The best time to moisturize, according to podiatrists, is right after a bath or shower.
Some runners struggle with the opposite problem: wet, sweaty feet. If your feet are wet and sweaty, you’ll be more prone to develop athlete’s foot or other fungal problems.
It’s not easy to keep your feet dry, but socks can help. Look for lightweight socks made of breathable material that’s moisture-wicking. Moisture-wicking socks can also help with water-related moisture. So, if you’re running in the rain or through slushy snow, you don’t have to worry about fungal problems.
Make sure that your shoes are dry before wearing them, and never wear damp socks.
After a long run or intense training session, your feet may be swollen and uncomfortable. Soaking your feet in cold water can bring some relief. Feel free to add Epsom salt to the water to soothe your tired feet. Just don’t overdo the salt, as this can dry out your feet.
If you don’t want to soak your feet, you can apply an ice pack instead. Just don’t keep the ice pack on your skin for more than 20 minutes at a time.
If you have issues with your feet swelling, keep your legs elevated while you apply the ice pack.
To avoid injury, make sure that you’re warming up properly, and stretching before and after exercise. Weak ankles are more prone to rolling and injury.
Work on strengthening your feet, and don’t forget to include your feet and ankles in your warm-up routines.
Try picking up small items from the floor with your toes, or balancing on one foot and performing toe stretches.
Overuse is a major cause of foot injuries like Achilles tendinitis. Putting repeated pressure on the foot can lead to heel spurs, strains, sprains and other foot-related problems.
If you’re just starting a running or exercise routine, start slowly. And make sure to stop your training if you’re in pain.
Pain is a sign that you’re already doing damage to your feet.
Long toenails can get caught in your socks, and they can also press up against the toe box of your shoes. Untrimmed nails can even lead to strains that can cause the blood to pool under the nail, and they can cut neighboring toes if they’re too sharp.
Make an effort to trim your nails on a regular basis to prevent these issues from happening. Cut your nails straight across, and then use a filer to smooth out the edges of your nails.
Regular foot massages can help keep pain at bay and prevent future foot problems. If you have the budget, you can get professional foot massages.
If that’s not an option, you can perform a self-massage using a tennis ball. A tennis ball will help stretch out your foot muscles and release built-up tension in your feet. This is an excellent way to reduce the risk of developing injuries, like plantar fasciitis.
Here’s how to massage your feet with a tennis ball:
Blisters are a serious concern for runners. They’re painful, they affect your performance, and they can even knock your training schedule off course.
Knowing how to treat blisters and treating them immediately can help speed up the recovery process.
Experts recommend dressing blisters with protective dressing. This creates a controlled environment to help heal the blister, alleviate pain and protect the skin from bacteria.
If you’re just a few days away from a big run and your feet are still blistered, try rubbing your feet with surgical spirit every day. This will toughen the skin and provide added blister protection.
It’s important to know when to see a specialist about your foot issues. Every runner will deal with pain, swelling and even athlete’s foot at some point. And if you’re experiencing pain that’s intense or just not going away, it’s time to see a podiatrist or your general physician.
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