In the Amy Maclean Podiatry clinic, we see all types of feet, foot, toes and leg ailments; across all age groups! Over the summer, particularly leading up to the first Great Aberdeen Run, we saw a large proportion of runners all with very similar ailments.
It got me thinking and I put together these top tips for runners and some general foot maintenance guidance. Regular foot maintenance by doing some at-home TLC can be a great habit to get into to keep the feet in tip-top condition. Good footcare habits are particularly beneficial during a running training programme and when upping your mileage in preparation for race day.
These foot-hacks are based on prevention as opposed to coming into clinic after your race being barely able to walk on very sore feet and the advice should help in preventing blisters, black toenails and other running-foot related ailments.
Helping to preventing blisters
Blisters. We all get them and they are very common in runners, particularly during a race-day-training-programme as you are running more, there is increased pressure on blister âhot spotsâ and your feet are constantly getting hot and sweaty in your socks and shoes.
- Dry your feet
It is vital to dry your feet thoroughly before you go for a run and everyday after a shower / bath.Â Any moisture that is left on the feet is going to create a frictional force that will build up and break down the skin quality and you will be more likely to get blisters. It might take a few extra minutes as part of your daily routine, but will be worth it!
- Use some talcum powder
Buy talc and use it after you have dried your feet, between your toes and on the top and bottom of your feet. I use baby powder, but any talc will do the same job. Talc is great as it absorbs the moisture (sweat = hot feet when running) and acts as a buffer between your skin and your socks, so it kind of does the anti-friction thing for you acting as a protective layer so that your foot is kept away from socks and constant rubbing.
- Buy good running shoes
Get yourself to a running shop and get properly fitted and some good advice for a running shoe for your running needs. Things to look out for in a good running shoe (for you) are good width and good depth.Â It is important to have a deep toe box (the area where your toes sit in a running shoe) and wiggle room for your toes as this helps prevent bruised toenails and blisters. Bottom line – if you canât âwiggleâ your toes in your running shoes without feeling squashed, they are too shallow for you and you should not buy them. PS –Â bruised toenails are NOT a right of passage for all runners, you donât need to get black toenails to say that you are a runner, you just need properly fitting footwear that are laced appropriately to prevent this.
Maintaining your feet ahead of race day
Foot maintenance is important for healthy and happy feet! Even more so, when you are training for a running race as keeping the feet feeling good will make the run far more comfortable.
- Buy good running shoes
As I said above, good running shoes for your running shoes will make such a difference to any feet-ailments. It is also important to keep your running shoes for running – shoes fit for purpose! Walking the dog? Wear different shoes. Going to the gym? Wear gym-specific trainers.
- Make sure you dry feet thoroughly
See above. Dry your feet thoroughly and use talc powder regularly!
- Change your socks
Change your socks regularly and wear running specific socks as they will help as they a) wick sweat and keep moisture away from the feet and b) add a small compression onto the foot which will help with comfort levels during a long run.
- Give your feet some TLC
At least once a week or after a long run you want to soothe your feet by bathing them in warm salty water, dry them thoroughly afterwards and then add some talc. About once a week put some cream on too, I would recommend a Urea based cream for this- however, some cream would be better than NO cream. For runners, applying cream to feet too often will result in the skin being too soft and not resilient enough to withstand the high forces that running places on the feet.
Lastly, see your local podiatrist regularly!