Our feet are an exceptionally important part of our bodies. They carry our weight; they support us, and they absorb pressure every single time we take a step. As a runner, your feet are even more important. They absorb the shock of each stride, power you forward, and hold you up. After knees, feet are the most commonly injured part of a runner’s body.
Unfortunately, we’re rarely kind to them. We force them into ill-fitting shoes, we wear uncomfortable heels and brogues, and we run without thinking about how we’re hurting our feet. In the winter, we fail to keep them warm and dry, and we expect them to just keep on going.
If you want your feet to keep running all winter long, you need to look after them. Here are 11 ways that you can do just that.
Warm Up Indoors
In very cold weather, it’s hard to get going. You might spend the first mile of your run adjusting to the temperature, and even if you have warmed up, it’s hard to get your blood flowing to your extremities, and you might find that your feet and hands hurt.
To avoid this, warm up indoors before you go. Try a dynamic warm-up that really gets your blood pumping and warms your body. Your temperature will still drop when you first go outdoors, but if you start to jog as soon as you get out, it shouldn’t be as bad.
Increase the Intensity Slowly
If you are new to running or looking to pick up distance or pace, you shouldn’t expect to be able to make increases quickly when you are doing it in poor weather. Go easy on yourself, expect bad days, and build up slowly.
Stretch Your Feet Out
Hopefully, you already stretch after a run, to avoid damaging muscles and aching too much the day after, but do you ever stretch your feet? Try these foot stretches to minimize the risks of injuries.
Take Your Time Choosing Shoes
If you are a keen runner, it’s worth having your gait analyzed instead of just running in any old trainers. Running in shoes that suit your feet will reduce pain and injuries.
Invest in Winter Trainers
In summer, trainers with mesh uppers and sides can offer support while keeping your feet cool. In winter, all this mesh will mean that your feet get wet and cold. Buy waterproof trail running shoes if you plan to go off-road through mud and find shoes with minimum mesh for winter road running.
Care for Your Shoes
When you come home from a wet run, you might be tempted to put your shoes on a heater to dry them quickly. Doing this too often will cause them to shrink and wrap your feet too tightly. Instead, leave them to dry at room temperature, and make sure you’ve got more than one pair so that you never need to wear damp shoes.
Wear Running Socks
Running socks offer support and compression in all the right places. Waterproof socks might lead to excess sweating, which isn’t good, but moisture-wicking acrylic materials might be ideal. Experiment with a few styles and fits to find running socks that work for you.
Give Your Feet Some TLC
If your feet are swollen after a run, ice them straight away. Then, get into the habit of moisturizing daily to care for your skin and help any blisters and dry patches to heel quickly. Massage can also be a good idea. Even a short foot massage can boost circulation, helping to heal and promoting good blood flow and circulation.
Get Help at the First Sign of Pain
Foot injuries are common, but you don’t have to live with them. At the first sign of any pain or damage to any area of your feet, make an appointment with HLES Footcare. Harford Lower Extremity Specialists can offer long-term support to keep your feet healthy and strong.
Yoga is a fantastic way to strengthen your feet, increase flexibility and reduce aches and pains. Yoga for runners is always a good idea but adding a few poses for your feet can help you to make the most of your routines.
Don’t Think Foot Pain is Normal – Listen to Your Feet
As a runner, you might think that foot pain is just something that you must learn to live with, like sore muscles the day after a big run. But this isn’t typically the case. After a very wet or hard run, your feet might ache a little, but they should never hurt, and you shouldn’t struggle to put weight on them. If you are in pain, change your shoes and make an appointment with a podiatrist, or your doctor.
Running is great for your feet. It boosts circulation, increases flexibility, and builds strength. Regular running also improves your posture, which means that you’ll put weight on your feet more evenly, which is great for long-term foot health. But only if you look after them.