Your feet are your foundation, and as a runner they are the most important tool you have. All the fancy gear in the world is worth nothing if your feet aren’t healthy enough to get you moving. Choosing proper footwear, and having proper coaching, are great ways to prevent running related injuries.
The foot is designed to propel you forward by transferring energy from the point of contact to the big toe. For most runners the point of contact with the ground is the heel, although a midfoot-strike is also common. After impact, the arch acts like a shock-absorber to reduce strain through the foot. The foot then rolls along the toes to finally press off the ground through the big toe. If any aspect of this system is dysfunctional, you will be more prone to injury.
Below I will discuss common injuries associated with running and tips to manage them.
Cracked and Dry Skin:
This commonly occurs due to wet or sweaty feet. The constant moisture removes your natural skin oils and leads to cracking skin. The easiest way to manage this is to always moisturize your feet after you wash them. I prefer to use wax-based balms because I find they stay on the skin longer and thus provide longer protection. Another option is to apply your choice of moisturizer prior to going for your run.
As a side note, cracked heels can also be a sign of vascular insufficiency (poor blood flow) and may be an early sign of diabetes. Additionally, cracked heels may be a sign of fatty-acid deficiency due to malabsorption from celiac disease or other digestive conditions.
Blisters are fluid filled bumps that form on the skin in areas with excess friction, and an ill-fitting shoe is the most common cause. One way to prevent blisters is to wear a thin sock-liner and a thin sock over the liner. This way, any rubbing happens between the two layers of sock instead of on your own skin. You can also use foot powders to prevent friction caused by sweat.
If you do get a blister, try not to pop it. Cover it with a bandage and let the swelling reduce on its own. If it does get popped, clean the wound and bandage. Allow the wound to heal and avoid friction.
Plantar Fasciitis is a chronic condition of the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot. It is characterized by sharp pain near the heel upon stepping on the affected foot. The best treatment is prevention. Be sure to hire a running coach to teach proper technique to prevent injury. If you are already suffering from the condition, you can freeze a lime (or lemon) and roll it under your foot to both ice and massage at the same time! Do this in the morning and evening each day until the pain subsides. If the condition persists, seek a qualified body worker.
This injury is caused by your foot rolling with your weight coming down upon it and damaging the ligaments that support the joint. This is more likely to happen on uneven terrain and if you have weak ankles. Footwear with too much cushioning can make your footing unstable. Maintaining strong feet by spending time barefoot can help prevent sprains. If you do sprain your ankle, the best course of action is to rest, elevate, and apply a compression bandage. If you see bruising and the swelling doesn’t go down after a couple days, it is best to see a professional to see if any major damage has been done.
An ingrown toenail is when a toenail starts to grow down into the skin around the nail. This results in pain, swelling, and sometimes an infection. This condition can result from the repetitive trauma of your toenails hitting the front of your shoe. This is easily prevented by making sure your shoes fit properly, and your toenails are cut short. Another way to prevent this condition is to cut your toenails straight across the front, in a line. If you do suffer from an ingrown toenail, you should see a doctor. The doctor may have to perform a minor surgery if there is an infection.
Remember to pay attention to your feet and take care of issues quickly to avoid them getting worse. Healthy and happy feet are the first step in a great run.
The opinions shared in this article are those of the contributor and not Total Gym Direct.