• Athletes: 10 Tips to Keep Your Feet Healthy

    on Aug 26th, 2016

Runners and other athletes rely on their feet for balance, support, and force. In fact, their feet are among their most valuable pieces of equipment. Feet take a lot of abuse throughout training and competition. For instance, in a mile run feet hit the ground about 1,500 times, at a force three to four times the body's weight. If you run a marathon, your feet will strike the ground close to 40,000 times. It's not surprising that foot problems often afflict athletes. Some competitors even brag about blisters and lost toenails. But not caring for your feet well can lead to discomfort, injury, or infection.

These steps can help you stay on your toes:

1. Invest in a good pair of shoes. You'll need a sport-specific shoe if you engage in a sport more than three times per week. Shoes should be comfortable and fit well. There should be enough room in the shoes to wiggle your toes, but make sure your heel doesn't slip out when you walk. Feet swell during the day, so shop for shoes in the afternoon or evening when feet are the largest.

2. And know when to replace them. Most of a shoe's shock absorption is lost after using them for 250 to 500 miles. If you run 25 miles per week, you'll need new shoes every 2.5 to 5 months.

3. Wear good socks. If you work out for a long time or in the heat, try socks made of a moisture-wicking material. Cotton socks can quickly get wet from sweat, and the moisture can cause blisters.

4. Let blisters be. Blisters are caused by friction and pressure, and they're more likely to form in moist conditions. Well-fitting shoes and socks can help prevent blisters. If you get one, resist the urge to pop it. Instead, apply moleskin or a bandage over it. If a blister pops on its own, wash it well, apply an antiseptic, and cover the area with a bandage to prevent infection.

5. Care for calluses and corns. Calluses and corns are layers of compacted, dead skin cells. Calluses are usually on the soles of the feet, and corns appear on the toes. They are caused by pressure and friction from skin rubbing against part of the shoe. Applying moleskin or padding to the area can help ease pain. Never try to remove a corn or callus on your own or use an over-the-counter product unless directed by your doctor.

6. Watch your toenails. Trim toenails straight across and leave them slightly longer than the end of the toe. If you get an ingrown toenail, see your doctor. Ingrown toenails can stem from improper toenail clipping, infection, injury, or shoe pressure. Toenails can turn black and blue when blood pools under the nail. This is often caused by the toe hitting the top of the shoe. But rarely, a black toenail can signal a very serious condition, such as a melanoma or an infection. So any black nail should be checked out by your doctor.

7. Warm up. Walk or jog for 10 minutes then stretch once you're warmed up. Stretching cold muscles can cause injury.

8. Listen to injury warning signs. If a part of your body hurts during exercise, stop. Knee, shin, and foot injuries are common in runners. Experts suggest following the RICE routine at the first sign of injury. RICE stands for:

If the pain is severe or you still have pain after a few days, see your doctor. Seek emergency help if you can't move or bear weight on the injured part. To prevent getting hurt, ease into a training program gradually. Doing too much, too soon, too often or going too fast is a recipe for injury.

9. Ask about shoe modifications. These devices help support and align the foot. For some athletes, orthotics, arch supports (orthosis), heel cups, or toe inserts may be all that's needed to prevent pain. Check with your doctor or podiatrist - a doctor who specializes in foot care - to see if they can help you.

10. See your doctor. Runners and other athletes should see a podiatrist regularly for foot checkups. If possible, find a podiatrist who has experience working with athletes.


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