With marathon season coming soon, new years resolutions getting people running and inspiration from a new patient who enjoys running 100Km events and local marathons; there and back, I have put together a few tips to ensure your runs go smoothly.
I love volunteering with the Brighton Marathon medical volunteers each year and it allows me to see first hand the trials and tribulations runners feet experience by the end of 26.2 miles. This has given me time to talk to many runners and hear their tips and tricks and do’s and do nots.
1- Getting the right fit for your feet.
If you’re a runner, it goes without saying that your feet take the brunt of the punishment. In fact, for runners the feet are more vulnerable to injury than any other part of the body. Luckily, both long-distance runners and casual joggers can improve their performance by paying extra attention to their feet and taking steps to prevent common foot problems. Poor fitting footwear is often the source of many foot problems caused by running. A visit to our practice can help you determine the best shoes for your foot structure. Finding the right running shoe may be the most important thing you can do for your feet. Here are some buying tips:
1. Be prepared to spend at least 20 minutes at the store. You want to give yourself plenty of time to try on a variety of styles, models and sizes.
2. The best time to shop for shoes is at the end of the day or after a run. That’s when your feet have swelled to their maximum size.
3. Get your feet measured (length and width) by knowledgeable store personnel. Even if you know your size, have both feet measured. If the sizes differ, fit the larger foot.
4. Sizes vary among brands. Judge a shoe by how it fits your foot, not by its listed size or by what you think your shoe size is.
5. Wear the socks you expect to run in. If you wear orthotics, put them in the shoes you’re considering.
6. Stand during the fitting process. There should be about a half-inch (the approximate width of a thumbnail) between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
7. Make sure the ball of your foot fits comfortably in the widest part of the shoe. The heel should fit snugly without any slippage.
8. Walk around the store in the shoes. Jog a little. Some specialty running stores have treadmills for this purpose. If so, jog on it for a minute or two to test your shoes.
2- The average distance running shoes should be worn for is 350 – 500 miles before replacing.
3- Ill-fitting socks are one of the primary causes of blisters. Wet socks and cotton socks can also cause blistering. Fit is as important in socks as it is in shoes. Socks absorb moisture, prevent friction and blisters, and add another layer of protection to your feet. Running without them ups your chances of infection and injury. Fortunately, socks cost significantly less than shoes, so it easier to experiment. Just make sure you try on socks with your running shoes. When you do find a brand, style and fabric that works for you, buy several pairs. But keep in mind that the pair that works well in a summer 5-K may not provide the same comfort during a marathon or keep your feet warm in winter. With so many sock options, there’s no excuse for wearing the wrong pair.
4- The foot needs strength-training like much of the rest of the body. Many injuries are directly related to weak feet. If the muscles are weak, they will not move the foot into its proper running position. The simplest way to strengthen your feet is to kick off your shoes and go barefoot whenever you can. And two or three times a week, take a few minutes for these foot exercises:
1. Toe rises. Standing with feet slightly apart, rise up on your toes 20 times.
2. Heel drops. Standing with toes on a bottom step holding onto the banister, drop the heels below the step (and back up) 20 times.
3. Towel pulls. Put a towel under your mid-foot and pull towards you with your toes pointing up for 30 seconds.
4. Toe grabs. Grasp a pencil or marble with your toes or try to screw up a piece of paper in to a ball.
5. Alphabet practice. Trace the letters of the alphabet (A to Z) on the floor with the big toe of each foot.
5- Running shoes are specifically designed for forward motion, so wearing them while engaging in a different activity can damage your feet by forcing them to move in unnatural ways. For example, both tennis and basketball involve lateral movements, so playing these sports in running shoes increases risk of injury.