Running is one of the best ways to tone the lower body and torch calories, but all this positivity can happen at the expense of your poor feet. Aside from sore feet, here are four common foot issues runners often experience.
What it is: When sneakers don't fit well, feet may slide forward with each step. This constant tapping injures the toenail, making it bleed underneath, also known as subungual hematoma. It can cause pain and eventually loss of the nail.
How to prevent it: Ensure that your sneakers fit properly — not too snug and not too loose. There should be about a thumbs-width distance between your big toe and the end of the shoe, without the heels sliding up and down. Here are tips on finding the perfect running shoe. Keeping your toenails trimmed can also prevent this issue, so there's an excuse to treat yourself to a pedicure!
What it is: One of the most common causes of heel pain, this frequent issue for newbie runners affects women more than men. The plantar fascia is the flat ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes. If it gets stretched too far and tears, it causes inflammation making every footstep, or even just standing, painful.
How to prevent it: Pronation (when feet roll inward), high arches, and flat feet are prone to this condition, so find a pair of sneakers that supports your specific type of foot. Don't try to save money by wearing shoes longer than recommended, as this can lead to heel pain as well. Running extremely long distances on hard surfaces like pavement can also cause plantar fasciitis, so when training for a big race, up your mileage slowly (follow the 10 percent rule) and try to run on softer dirt trails.
Keep reading to learn how to prevent two other foot issues that plague runners.
What they are: The skin on your feet may be thick and tough, but when exposed to constant friction, moisture, and heat, fluid collects between the top and bottom layers of the skin. The fluid in a blister actually acts as a cushion, but can be very painful if it breaks open, and possibly lead to an infection.
How to prevent it: Make sure your sneakers fit well and although wearing new sneaks almost always means dealing with a blister, it can be prevented by breaking in your sneakers gradually over a few weeks. Walk around in them first, and when you start running with them, keep it to shorter distances. Always wear good quality wicking socks to absorb sweat (Smartwool, Darn Tough, and Teko are trustworthy brands), and prevent getting your feet wet by avoiding puddles. If you notice a blister starting to form, apply a band-aid or piece of tape on the area to prevent further irritation.
What it is: When the skin on feet becomes extremely dry, the constant pounding of running can cause it to crack — also known as a heel fissure. If the crack is deep enough, it can bleed and put you at risk for an infection.
How to prevent it: If feet are dry, use a pumice stone in the shower to gently slough off dead skin cells, and then follow up with a thick moisturizer. When not running, avoid wearing shoes that expose your skin (like sandals), as this can dry the skin out even more.