What isn’t there to love about running? It’s great for your health, helps release stress-fighting endorphins, and it’s free. Like any other form of exercise, however, running can pose some risks to runners, and many common injuries can bring any athlete to their knees. Here’s the great news: just about all of these injuries are preventable! Whether you’re a newbie in the running world or have been hitting the pavement for years, follow these 10 handy tips to keep your feet strong, healthy, and injury-free:
You might be eager to start your new running regimen or crank up the intensity of your current exercise routine, but you should start slowly! Doing too much too quickly increases your risk for injury, especially if you try to increase your mileage or run time too quickly. Your body needs time to adjust, even if you’re a trained runner! Take it easy at first to avoid injuries like stress fractures and Achilles tendinitis. Try increasing your output weekly or whenever your body feels comfortable doing so.
Check Your Feet Often
Your feet are workhorses that undergo a great deal of stress when you run. It’s essential that you take extra care of them if you’re a runner! Do regular self-checks, pay attention to any pain you may feel and respond to it immediately, and call your friendly podiatrist if anything seems out of the norm.
Choose the Right Shoes
A good running shoe is key in helping prevent running injuries! Select a properly-fitting running shoe that cushions your feet. Remember, you’ll want to wear actual running shoes while you’re exercising since they are specifically designed for that forward-motion type of activity. Your podiatrist can always give you handy insights if you aren’t sure where to begin!
Your Socks Matter, Too
Yes, your choice of socks can also help keep your feet safe and free from injury! We suggest wearing a poly-cotton blend type of sock that is comfortable, water-resistant, and lightweight. Fit your shoes with the socks you plan on wearing when exercising to ensure that your feet feel secure and protected!
Stretch Before and After Running
We know you’re chomping at the bit to get out there and hit the streets. Before you do, though, you really need to stretch and warm up to increase your blood flow and prepare your muscles for the workout. Spend 5-10 minutes doing hamstring stretches, knee clasps, and other helpful stretches. When you’re finished running, you’ll also want to cool down with a 10-minute stretching session. Trust us, your Achilles tendons will thank you!
Choose Easier Exercises After Hard Workouts
You deserve rest, especially after a grueling workout, but that doesn’t mean we’re giving you permission to be a complete couch potato! Active rest – that is, engaging in easy exercise – is always better for you than complete inactivity, especially since it helps your body heal more quickly. Choose gentler exercises like cycling, swimming, or easy walking the day after a tough workout!
Think About Adding Strength Training
We know what you’re thinking – you just want to focus on running, not bulking up your upper body! Cross training with weights, however, can really help you out in the long haul, and that includes reducing running injuries! Give the cardio a break and shoot to do about 20 minutes of strength training 2-3 times a week. Doing so will strengthen your core and your connective tissues, turning you into a real running machine!
Make Post-Workout Healing a Priority
Experiencing muscle pain after your running sessions? You’re not alone – it’s pretty common! After all, your body’s muscles are continuously repairing themselves after you exercise. Help them along by resting and elevating your feet and adding compression and ice if needed. You may also wish to submerge your lower half in an ice bath following your workout to help speed up the healing process!
Your feet need the best support possible, and their biggest cheerleaders (besides your friends at The Foot & Ankle Center, of course!) are orthotics. These handy devices are designed to support your foot structure based on your foot type and gait pattern. Your podiatrist can help you find the right ones for you or may suggest prescription orthotics to optimize your workouts!
Visit Your Podiatrist
If you like to run frequently, you should also make it a point to visit your podiatrist on the regular. Podiatrists can assess your feet, answer any questions you may have, recommend the proper footwear, and even evaluate your feet for possible issues you may not even be aware of. When you do make an appointment, bring your running shoes along for your podiatrist to assess as well!
Looking for a knowledgeable podiatrist near you? The Foot & Ankle Center is proud to serve you with 6 locations in the Greater St. Louis region! Our experienced doctors are ready to assist you with any podiatric concern you may have. Call us today at (314) 487-9300 to schedule your appointment with us or request an appointment online!