Warm weather causes many people to start bringing their exercise out of the gym and onto the sidewalks. It is also the start of the season for many people preparing for marathons and other races.
Making running part of a workout routine leads to better physical stamina and a more positive state of mind—but a detrimental foot or ankle injury can quickly stop runners in their tracks. Keeping feet healthy and pain-free can go a long way toward ensuring that every run is enjoyable, for both experienced runners and those just starting out. Following these simple steps before lacing up your running shoes could keep foot and ankle injuries at bay.
Select a good running shoe:
Runners should be aware that deciding on which shoe is right for them means more than which one is the most comfortable.
According to Karen Langone, DPM, president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM), the most important running tip is proper shoe selection. “A running shoe purchase is dependent upon the type of foot and function of the foot for the individual. Runners should research shoe construction and keep in mind that footwear can vary in size from one manufacturer to the other,” she said.
An appointment with one of our trained physicians can help educate you on how different shoes can impact the amount of damage being done to your feet and how to minimize injuries.
Select good socks
Choosing the right socks can be a big part of keeping your feet healthy during your runs. Runners should always fit shoes with the socks that they plan on wearing. Socks should be made of a poly-cotton blend that pulls moisture from the skin, fit well, and be comfortable when worn with a running shoe.
Stretch out and build momentum
Before a run, begin by warming up and gently stretching for 5-10 minutes, focusing on lower leg muscles. Amateur runners should start with short distances, increasing distance over time to help prevent injury. All runners should begin every workout slowly, as this allows the body to warm up further and decreases the chance of muscle strain. Runners should also focus on keeping both the feet and entire body relaxed, avoid tensing or cramping toes, and run with a gait that feels the most natural. Cease running immediately if any pain is experienced.
Cool down and rest
After reaching the end of a running workout, cool down and stretch for about 10 minutes. Submerging the lower extremities in an ice bath after longer runs can reduce muscle soreness, as can the use of a self-massager designed for post-athletic activities.
Muscle pain is common after exercise, and minor injuries may be treated with the RICE regimen (rest, ice, compression, elevation). However, if pain does not resolve itself after several days—or returns immediately upon resuming exercise, it is recommended you contact one of our physicians to help diagnose the problem before it gets any worse.
Frequent runners should see a podiatrist on a regular basis to maximize any running program and prevent serious injury.