Foot-Friendly Running Tips
Making running part of a workout routine leads to better physical stamina and a more positive state of mind—but a detrimental foot 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 a few simple steps provided by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), before hitting the trail or treadmill, can keep foot and ankle injuries at bay.
“Some of the most common running-related foot injuries that today’s podiatrists treat are arch pain, tendonitis, and blisters,” said APMA president Kathleen Stone, DPM. “However, if runners can take just a few minutes to stretch properly pre-workout, select appropriate footwear, and see a podiatrist immediately when foot pain occurs, many of these ailments can be avoided entirely.”
In order to get the most out of each run without falling victim to injury, APMA recommends the following:
Select a good running shoe: 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.
APMA has recently given several running shoes its Seal of Acceptance for allowing proper foot function, including models made by Puma, Mizuno, Asics, Reebok, Avia, and Ryka. A sports medicine podiatrist can help aid in the footwear selection process if needed.
Select good socks: Runners should always fit shoes with the socks that they plan on wearing during a run. 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 (Health Enterprises Therapeutic Hot & Cold Foot Massager has the APMA’s Seal of Acceptance).
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—runners should seek out care from an APMA member podiatrist immediately.
Frequent runners should see a physical therapist on a regular basis to maximize any running program and prevent serious injury. For more on running and foot health, visit APMA’s new Runner’s Resource page at www.apma.org/runners.
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