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As runners our feet are obviously incredibly important, but sometimes they just don’t get the care and attention they deserve. In this article I will try to show a few simple ways you can look after your feet and keep them happy.
First if your feet are sore in any way, DON’T run. Check your running shoes, how old are they? If they are showing signs of wear, ideally bring them in to our store and we can check if it is just old shoes that are the problem. It’s so good to see a pair of old worn shoes, they tell us so much about your running. If your shoes are fine, or if your foot has been sore for a while, then definitely go and see either a podiatrist or physio.
Pain in the sole of the foot, typically at the heel, could be plantar fasciitis. Found out more:
A foot roller that can help massage out the sole of the foot, loosening up the plantar fascia. It can also be put in the freezer – ice can help against inflammation. Using a massage ball is another great way to stretch out this muscle.
Make sure you have enough space in your shoes.
As your feet hit the ground they can extend slightly in length. As they get warm through running they can also swell to a degree. For regular running a space of half to a whole thumb's width is recommended between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. It is best to measure the space while standing and once you have kicked your heels back into the shoes.
The big toe may also not be the longest toe. The toe boxes of running shoes will also vary in shape. A shoe which tapers too much in the area of your smaller toes may end up bruising them – some toe boxes are squarer than others. When having a shoe fitting, ask your salesperson to assess whether you have adequate toe room. Inform them of the distances you are planning to run. The longer the distance, the more toe room you are likely to need.
Different types of running shoes will necessitate different amounts of space at the toes. You will not need as much toe room in barefoot running shoes or athletic spikes, where a snugger fit around the toes is more appropriate. Always remember running shoes do not give and stretch as much as leather shoes and your feet are much more likely to expand while running.
If you get black toenails after a long run this could be an indication that your shoes are too small. Keeping your nails nice and short can help, but you might want to try a half size larger next time. If the shoes are right for you, you will be able to have a secure fit along the length of your feet, but also have some toe room.
Bear in mind that your choice of running sock thick or thin, can influence the amount of space in the region of the toes. If you get numbness or pins and needles in your feet this is often a sign your shoes are too snug. Try wearing a thinner sock, this may help, but the best solution might be larger shoes. See below for more sock tips
Visit us for a proper fitting, and we can give you more personal advice.
Here are some easy exercises that can help to strengthen your feet:
1. Wiggling and clenching your toes
This can help to strengthen the plantar fascia (one of the main muscles which goes along the sole of the foot.)
2. Try to pick up a pencil with your toes
This is fun, but can be tricky depending on the strength of your feet.
3. Take your shoes and socks off and try to ‘walk’
Walk (or move yourself forward) just by clenching and unclenching your toes. You won’t go very far or very fast, but it will strengthen your feet very nicely. You could have a very short, slow race to see who has the strongest feet!
Be sensible and don’t do too much. If you feel any pain, stop! Little and often is always best.
Most runners have probably experienced a black toenail at some stage or another. The blackness is a bruise or a blood blister, where excessive pressure or friction has been applied to the nail. In severe cases, if the pressure is prolonged, for example over marathon distance, the nails can be dislodged from the nail bed and can finally come off altogether, to make way for the growth of a new nail. Needless to say, this can be an uncomfortable experience!
If you are concerned about your toenails after a running event which may have left them bruised and battered, you may wish to seek medical advice. Otherwise, if you keep your toes and toenails clean and pressure-free (to minimise discomfort) they will heal quite quickly by themselves. If you have lost a toenail altogether it can take a long time to grow back completely. The big toenails can take a year to grow back to normal length.
Preventing black toenails is largely down to the fit of your shoes (please see above).
Whether you're a marathon runner, or stepping out for your very first mile, as many runners will know... or come to learn the hard way, that looking after our feet is crucial. We're not just recommending and raving about any socks, these have been tried, tested, and loved. They truly do make a difference than standard cotton socks. If we're going to talk about feet, lets make sure we're on the same page about technical running socks!
I hope this has helped give you some ideas of how you can take care of your feet. Keep your toes happy and you will have a happier running experience!
These are tips that we've found very useful and want to share with our customers. But we're not certified instructors. Always consult your specialist before beginning any exercise programme. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.
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