For many people out there, just thinking about going out for a run is enough to make their feet start hurting. It’s hard to get motivated to hit the road or the trail if you think your feet will be a sore, swollen mess at the end. Some people push through anyway, accepting it as inevitable, while others simply don’t run at all.
Well, we have news for you. Although yes, exercise will push you (a little bit of discomfort is fine), and no, there’s no way to prevent injuries with 100% certainty, beating up your feet every time you run is not inevitable. There are plenty of tips and tricks you can employ to minimize pain and keep your feet in great shape from start to finish. Here are a few:
- Invest in good running shoes. Your standard sneakers aren’t going to cut it, especially if you want to run regularly. Running shoes need extra padding and arch support, and you should find a pair that fits comfortably (even when feet are swollen after a long run) and is designed for your foot type and gait style (for example, overpronation or flat feet). A specialty running store can help you pick out the perfect pair.
- Replace shoes every 300-500 miles, or when you notice obvious signs of wear.
- Don’t try to be a hero! Whether you’re starting from scratch or you’re already a regular, build up distance and duration slowly. You’re not going to go from scratch to 5k, or from 5k to a half marathon, in an afternoon. A good rule of them is to start with what you’re comfortable with and then increase mileage by no more than 10 percent per week.
- Pick a course and terrain that’s easier for your feet. Dirt is easier than concrete or asphalt, and flat is easier than uphill or downhill.
- Try “interval running,” where you alternate between running and power walking throughout a long run. You to keep your heart rate up while giving your feet and ankles a few minutes to recover with lower impact forces, allowing you to go longer and harder without pain.
- See a podiatrist. We’ll check your feet and gait for any structural abnormalities or problems, and if we find any, help you fix them. In many cases, the right shoe insert or pair of custom orthotics can make a huge difference. We’ll also help you with any stretches, exercises, or physical therapy you can employ in order to strengthen ankles and leg muscles, hardening them against accidental injury.
At North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute, our mission is to keep you up, out, and active on healthy, happy, pain-free feet, regardless of age. If foot pain is keeping you from the activities you treasure, give Dr. Keith McSpadden a call at 512-593-2949.