Our Tips for Maintaining Healthy Feet Whether It's A 5K Or A Marathon!
As the weather improves, hopefully, the chance to get out and about also does. At this time of year we are encouraged to move more, enjoy the drier and warmer weather and in some cases do our bit for charity. The number of charity walks and runs are becoming more and more popular and with a large number of those taking part relatively new to the increased levels of activity. This however should not put you off taking part and we have some tips to get you moving along pain free.
Planning a training timetable no matter how long or short your walk or run is will help you build up to the final distance slowly and with less chance of any problems. This will also allow you to trial your footwear and allow for your feet to get used to the shoes. Event organisers often provide a training plan which can help you stick to a schedule eg Race for Life 5K walk.
Visit your podiatrist
Visit a podiatrist to ensure your feet are in good health before you start. They can take care of any pre-existing problems you may already have such as corns and callous or nail issues as well as any biomechanical (how you walk) issues which may cause problems. The earlier the better!
Ensure you have properly fitting and appropriate footwear for your challenge.
Well fitted shoes are essential to avoid injuries as well as making the whole experience a lot more comfortable. With the increasing numbers of styles and choices on the market see a specialist sports shop eg Run4it to ensure you have the correct shoes for you. Make sure to tell them what type of walking or running you'll be taking part in.
Avoid trainer socks or wearing no socks whatsoever as this can make your feet prone to rubbing, excessive sweating and blisters. The type of sock which suits you is different for everybody and requires trial and error on your part. Whether it's a thick pair, thin pair or two pairs it really depends on your foot type and footwear. For those taking part in longer walks or runs, pack a couple of extra pairs to change your socks on the way. Its a great way to instantly feel a little more comfortable in your shoes, especially if the weather is a little soggy!
Gentle stretching exercises before and after will help to warm up and prepare your muscles, tendons and joints for exercise reducing the chance of injury as well as any aches and pains the next day! Stretching should take around 15 minutes and be careful to ensure that all the areas are covered.
Preping your feet
Keeping your feet in good shape will help to prevent further problems. Washing with warm soapy water every day ensuring to dry thoroughly especially between the toes. There are many more sweat glands between the toes meaning the area is often a little more moist than the rest of the feet. Dampness between the toes can lead to athletes foot, soft corns as well as fragile and tender skin which is more susceptible to infection.
Cut nails straight across ensuring not to trim too short or down at the edges to prevent ingrown toenails. Avoid nail scissors instead using proper clippers.
Moisturising feet daily can help keep skin healthy and hydrated avoiding dry and cracked skin which can become painful. The healthier the skin the more resistant to injury it will be. Avoid between the toes with the moisturiser, as already mentioned, this area should be kept dry. If you suffer from excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) your podiatrist will advised you on how to control or prevent your symptoms.
Applying a layer of Vaseline or petroleum jelly prior to walking can help reduce friction on the skin avoiding chaffing and blisters. It's also handy to pick up a travel size of these products and apply when changing socks en route.
As much as we try, when partaking in long walks or runs we often develop blisters. Pockets of fluid between the layers of the skin, blisters develop when the area is subjected to rubbing causing the layers of skin to lift away from each other. Maintaining healthy skin and avoiding friction is the best way to prevent blisters as well as using blister plasters, tape or moleskin over areas of friction before they develop fully.
If a blister does develop, keep the skin in tact whenever possible. The fluid in the blister aids cell division promoting healing as well as reducing the chance of infection if there is no break in the skin. If the pressure of the fluid is causing pain, pierce gently at the edge of the blister with a sterile needle and allow the fluid to drain. Leave the overlying skin in place and cover with antiseptic solution or cream and cover with a dressing or plaster. Blisters larger than a 10 pence piece, painful or having problems heaving visit your podiatrist for further advice and treatment.
Pack a first aid kit containing items such as blister plasters, Vaseline and antiseptic cream. Although we hope to avoid any blisters or breaks in the skin being prepared if they do happen is essential.
Setting the pace
The great thing about planning your training and starting it early means you have time to increase your speed. Concentrate at first on just the mileage and not the pace, once you're on you feet and comfortable with your training then increase your speed and get going. If its your first race or walk don't be put off if you're a little slow, everyone has to start somewhere!
Most of all enjoy! These races or walks are meant to be fun as well as raising money for the chosen charity. Whatever the distance enjoy the sense of achievement when you cross the finish line, no matter the timings!
Its not too late to SIGN UP. Here are some events over the next few months to get involved in:
Moonwalk Edinburgh - 11 June 2016
Kiltwalk Edinburgh - 18th September 2016
Race for Life – Various events and dates
Alzheimer Memory Walks – Various dates and locations