Running is such a natural activity, many people understandably think that it can be accomplished at great lengths without any training, care, or preparation. The truth is that running is a hardship for our feet, ankles, and just about every part of our legs. Due to natural misalignments in foot structure and imperfections in the average person’s posture, wear and tear during even a brief jog can become painful and lead to health problems. With springtime and the running season right around the corner, it is time to first learn how to take care of your feet to avoid injuries.
Runner injuries are often caused by:
- Imbalanced or uneven running surface: You wouldn’t want to go swimming in a turbulent river, right? So, why would you run on uneven, rocky, or bumpy surfaces? When you run on the wrong surface, it puts stress on the arch of your foot, ankle, and knees, which can result in serious injury. Treadmills are great pieces of exercise equipment because it virtually removes any concern about running surfaces.
- Lack of physical conditioning: As previously mentioned, dashing straight into a running regiment is not ideal. With no training, a runner might not know how to maintain a good running posture, how much water is needed on a run, what sort of meal prep beforehand is useful, and so on. Perhaps most dangerous of all, people who do not properly stretch before or after a run may be prone to muscle and joint injury.
- Improper footwear (not made for running): You need to both find a shoe that is specifically made for running distances and one that just feels right to you. Once you have that picked out, it is usually recommended that you go up half-a-size. This extra shoe space accounts for foot swelling that can happen after extensive running. Better to get used to a slightly-bigger shoe than smashing your feet with each step in a marathon.
- Socks that inhibit blood circulation: Taking care of your feet means paying attention to your footwear, including your socks. Getting the right socks for running can help stop blisters from forming, protect your feet from painful friction, reduce sweat and sweat-related conditions, and more. If you feel your toes getting pinched by your socks, do not use them for running. There are some good athletic sock brands out there – you might want to find one you like.
- Exacerbated skin or fungal conditions of the foot: If your foot already has a preexisting condition, such as fungal toenails, you should not run until you have it addressed by a professional. Sometimes lengthy exercise can worsen such conditions.
Additionally, injuries can be prevented if you don’t rush into your new running regimen. Start slow and complete jogs or runs that feel comfortable without pushing yourself too far. Give yourself weeks to slowly run farther and farther each time. If you are planning to run a marathon this spring, start training now so you have plenty of time to acclimate your body to the stress and challenge.
Want to know more about foot care and how to prepare for the running season? Talk to our podiatrists at Integrative Foot & Ankle Centers of Washington before you begin. We can analyze the health of your foot and diagnose any issues that need to be addressed. If you have already suffered a foot or ankle injury while running, we can also help design a treatment plan that is easy on you yet effective for recuperation.