Whether you are a recreational runner or are training for a marathon, you all have something in common: the need to care for those feet that will carry you across the miles or kilometers. If you don’t take care of them, you can’t get very far, right?
If you don’t have your own podiatrist to help you care for your feet, it may be a good idea to find one. A podiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in feet and ankles. They’re trained to diagnose and treat, as well as do surgery so they truly are the foot specialists of the medical community.
Dr. Oliver Zong, a cosmetic foot surgeon in New York City, offers BlissTree.com readers tips on keeping your feet healthy in part 1 of this 2 part series. Dr. Zong is also Director of Surgery at NYC Foot Care and is on the Board of Directors at the Gramercy Park Surgery Center.
- Stretching. Stretching primes the body for the strenuous activity. Stretch before and after running. Concentrate on the calves, hamstrings, quads and feet.
- Shoes. Invest in a good pair of running shoes. They provide specific impact support that running demands. If feet sweat heavily during running try putting talcum powder in your shoes to keep feet dry.
- Orthotics. If you have arch or heel pain, you may be a perfect candidate for orthotics. Visit a podiatrist to inquire about purchasing orthotics for your shoes.
- Socks. Cotton socks absorb moisture. For a long run like a marathon, your feet may require a synthetic sock (containing acrylic), which helps alleviate moisture from your skin. Make sure that the seams of your socks are not in an area of pressure, which can lead to a lot of pain. If you cannot find a comfortable location for the seams try turning socks inside out.
- Anti-Inflammatory Medications. Do not pop Advil before a race to prevent aches that may arise during the race. Save this treatment for the day after the race. Taking anti-inflammatory medications will mask any pain that is felt during the race and can lead to more serious injury. Pain is a valuable feedback mechanism that you need to pay attention to during a long run.
- Groom Toenails. Make sure your toenails are not long before a race. They should not extend past the tip of your toe and should be shaped in a straight cut. If you do not properly groom your toenails before a marathon you run the risk of developing an ingrown nail or even a fungal nail.
- Toes. If you have a tendency to develop corns and callouses on the tips of your toes try adding padding in your sneakers underneath your toes. If your toes or toenails turn black you may have developed subungual hematoma (bleeding under the nails). This may cause nails to fall off. Keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection and seek treatment from your podiatrist.
- Blisters. Blisters are the results of excessive friction between shoes and feet. Take preventative steps by making sure shoes fit properly and are laced up so that they are form fitting to your feet. If you are prone to blisters apply Vaseline to problem areas prior to your run or try padded “blister proof” socks like those made by Thorlo. Additionally, applying moleskin to problem areas also prevents blisters from forming.
- Visit Your Podiatrist. Dr. Zong’s patients who run in the New York City Marathon make appointments the week before the race to get rid of corns, callouses, get moleskin, have their orthodics padded, and in some cases receive cortisone injections for their heel spurs (plantar fasciitis) so they can run in their dream event.
- Finish Line. When the race is complete Dr. Zong says practice RICE. Rest your feet. Ice feet to keep inflammation and swelling down. Compress with ACE wraps to reduce swelling. Elevate feet to help them rest up for the next big run.
Come back tomorrow to read about some of the common injuries that runners may experience.