Ever since the Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman movie, The Bucket List (2007), came out, I’ve noticed more of my patients have mentioned that running a marathon was on their lifelong “To Do” list. Bravo if you’re considering this! And, of course, I’m going to assume it’s with your primary care physician’s approval, right?
As a runner myself, I know the great things running does for your body and soul. As a podiatrist, I also know how hard it is on your feet. So, let’s talk a little foot care, shall we? There are several things you can do to protect your feet so they are in good shape to take you where you want to go.
The first thing is toenails. I can always tell a runner by his or her toenails. They are usually thicker than normal, and either yellow or black. The change in color and/or texture comes from running downhill, and unfortunately, it’s a fact of life for dedicated runners. It is usually not a health issue, just a cosmetic one that we can address in our office if it interferes with your career as a shoe model.
If you’re looking for an excuse to have a pedicure, here’s your chance. A runner’s toenail should be cut straight across, and a bit on the longer side. If you’re prone to ingrown toenails, the shape should be gently rounded out with a file.
Calluses, as you know, are a hardening of the skin. Blisters are soft pockets of fluid that form when friction rubs against the foot. Calluses and blisters are preventable, but keep in mind that both are defense mechanisms attempting to protect your foot.
Calluses form over time, and are easy to spot and eliminate with a pumice stone after every shower. Blisters are more problematic since they have the potential of becoming infected. Once a blister forms, you can swab the area with rubbing alcohol, then take a sterile pin or needle and drain the blister. Leave the skin intact since this forms a protective layer over the sensitive area of skin. Bandage with antibiotic ointment.
To prevent blisters, many runners coat their feet with Vaseline or some kind of lubricant to form a protective shield. (Remember, dry skin is prone to friction.) You can also wear two pairs of socks for extra protection, or invest in blister-free synthetic socks that will wick moisture away. Avoid the white, all-cotton athletic socks because they retain moisture.
Shoes are probably the biggest and most important investment a runner can make. As I’ve said with other shoe-shopping expeditions, it’s best to pick out shoes later in the day when your feet are more swollen. Bring your own runner’s socks with you, as well as any insoles or orthotics. All of these will help the salesperson calculate a better fit.
Try several different manufacturer’s shoes on, and in different sizes. There should be almost an inch between your big toe and the end of the shoe. I also recommend having two pair of running shoes so you can switch off each day. Here at Snyder/Stuart we are big fans of Aetrex running shoes. In fact, I have mine on right now! We carry them here in our office or you can now order them online, at our doctor-run site, www.everythingforyourfeet.com.
Also, the way you lace your running shoes matters. There are several ways to lace shoes to either avoid or compensate for certain problems like high insteps, wide or narrow feet, bone spurs or simply something rubbing you the wrong way. Runner’s World’ online magazine (www.runnersworld.com) has great videos to show you precisely how to tie laces so you avoid certain difficulties.
Orthotics and insoles are two of my favorite subjects when it comes to foot health – I’d prescribe them for flip flops and bedroom slippers if I could! Here is what you need to keep in mind: The insole is the cheapest part of any shoe. Do you really want to be slamming hundreds of pounds of pressure on your delicate foot with very little cushioning between you and the pavement?
Here is what I can offer to inspired runners: If you are serious about running, bring your new (unworn) running shoes into SSPC and let us check them out for you. We can check the fit, they way their laced, the stress points, and if you need professional orthotics to further protect your feet.
Also, you may want to check out the line of men’s and women’s Aetrex running shoes that Snyder Stuart Podiatric Centers carries. After years of research, we chose to carry Aetrex because it represents the highest standards in comfort, breathability and performance. I wear them myself, as do many on our staff. We like the way Aetrex provides stability and shock attenuation in a high-performance shoe. And we’ve seen that the advanced technology and materials the company incorporates goes a long way toward keeping feet healthy, dry and cool while running.
Drop in and see us at SSPC. We’d love to show you a running shoe!