Runners and other athletes rely on their feet for balance, support, and force. In fact, their feet are among their most valuable pieces of equipment.
Feet take a lot of abuse throughout training and competition. For instance, in a mile run feet hit the ground about 1,500 times, at a force three to four times the body's weight. If you run a marathon, your feet will strike the ground close to 40,000 times.
It's not surprising that foot problems often afflict athletes. Some competitors even brag about blisters and lost toenails. But not caring for your feet well can lead to discomfort, injury, or infection.
These steps can help you stay on your toes:
1. Invest in a good pair of shoes. You'll need a sport-specific shoe if you engage in a sport more than three times per week. Shoes should be comfortable and fit well. There should be enough room in the shoes to wiggle your toes, but make sure your heel doesn't slip out when you walk. Feet swell during the day, so shop for shoes in the afternoon or evening when feet are the largest.
2. And know when to replace them. Most of a shoe's shock absorption is lost after using them for 250 to 500 miles. If you run 25 miles per week, you'll need new shoes every 2.5 to 5 months.
3. Wear good socks. If you work out for a long time or in the heat, try socks made of a moisture-wicking material. Cotton socks can quickly get wet from sweat, and the moisture can cause blisters.
4. Let blisters be. Blisters are caused by friction and pressure, and they're more likely to form in moist conditions. Well-fitting shoes and socks can help prevent blisters. If you get one, resist the urge to pop it. Instead, apply moleskin or a bandage over it. If a blister pops on its own, wash it well, apply an antiseptic, and cover the area with a bandage to prevent infection.