Whether you have a foot injury or not, foot health is very important! We use our feet to take us from place to place everyday, they carry the weight of our body and help us stay balanced. It is best to be proactive and get ahead on foot health than to wake up with a foot injury or something that prevents you from running.
I have dealt with blisters, plantar fasciitis, numbness while running, and random pain in my feet. I have tried numerous types of shoes and orthotics, and consulted with Physical Therapists all in hopes of getting rid of foot pain. It has been a goal of mine to stop putting off taking care of my feet until it’s too late and I am injured. To be proactive about your foot health these are things you should be mindful of:
I have talked about having a proper pair of fitting shoes in numerous previous articles so I won’t go into too much detail here. The main thing is that your shoes should offer support and complement your gait. They should feel good to YOU, you are the one who has to wear them after all! Go to a local running store and get fitted for a pair.
You can check out my article about finding the right pair of shoes for you.
Blisters happen all too often. Plain and simple they suck. Finding the right socks and shoes is a good start to combating getting blisters, but run long or often enough and blisters seem to be an inevitable part of being a runner. What can you do?
- Try not to pop the blister - unless it is very large, painful, and likely to be irritated later. The fluid filled blister will help prevent infection, improves healing and protects the new skin that is forming underneath.
- If you do not pop the blister use moleskin or blister cushions to help lighten impact while walking.
- If you need to pop the blister:
- Use a sterile needle (to sterilize it, put the point or edge in a flame until it is red hot, or rinse it in alcohol).
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Sterilize the blister and the area around the blister.
- Use the sterilized needle to puncture a small hole in the blister. Do this by pushing the sides of the blister together and then with the needle come in from the side of the blister rather than straight on. Let the blister drain.
- If the fluid is yellow or white, the blister may be infected and needs medical attention.
- Do not remove the skin over the broken blister. The new skin underneath needs this protective layer.
- Apply antibiotic ointment or cream.
- Be aware of signs of infection including pus drainage, red or warm skin surrounding the blister, or red streaks leading away from the blister.
- If you notice that a blister may be forming - this is called a hot spot - use moleskin or a blister cushion to help alleviate the impact or friction you feel while you are running and walking.
Massage, Rest, Ice
When your feet are tired, achy, and/or painful three great ways to try making them feel better is by resting, icing, and massaging them. Ice will help decrease inflammation and promote healing in the tissues.
Resting your feet will give them a chance to heal and prevent pain from getting worse - if you take time off from running make sure to slowly ease back into your training to assess how you feel.
If you have a massage therapist that you see regularly to help combat those inevitable runner pains, that’s awesome! If you aren’t able to see a massage therapist, there are many exercises you can do at home to help massage the muscles in your feet.
- Use a tennis ball or frozen water bottle to roll under the bottom of your foot - this will help your plantar fascia and other muscles.
- You can get a small ball with little spikes on it that will also help massage the bottom of your foot, the spikes on the ball are thought to help increase blood flow to the area which can promote healing.
- Rub your feet or have a willing friend, family member, or significant other rub them.
- There are loads of self massage or self mobilization videos on youtube, I recommend checking the source and seeing if they are a licensed massage therapist or physical therapist before taking their advice.
- You can stretch your arch by pulling your toes back towards your shin.
The arch of the foot is maintained both by its structure, bones and ligaments, as well as controlled by various muscles crossing it. One of those muscles supporting it is the big toe flexor, aka the muscle that curls the toe and runs into the arch. Maintaining strength and flexibility in this muscle is key to keeping a neutral arch, which helps support proper knee and hip alignment all the way up the chain.
These basic exercises are a great start to maintaining and/or improving foot health, ankle stability, balance, and decreasing pain and the chance of injury. If you are experiencing foot pain on a daily basis we recommend seeking a Physical Therapist to assess foot strength and stability. Together your Physical Therapist and you will create an individualized plan of care and determine if custom orthotics could be right for you!
- Calf Raises
- Calf Stretch
- Toe Yoga
- Towel Scrunches
- Arch Lifts
- Marble Pick Up
- Toe Splaying
- Big Toe Presses
As runners it is very important to keep our feet healthy! Trying taking steps the steps listed above to be proactive about your foot health.
Sierra, The Tunnel Marathons Trainer