Many people love running. It is a favorite way to keep fit. It also gets us out in the open, fresh air. Upwards of 64 million people a year go running and the benefits are obvious.
Running is good for the heart, it keeps us fit, it improves the capacity of the lungs, and helps stretch the muscles in the legs and feet. It can help with digestion, mental health, and in getting a healthy body shape.
If there is a downside to running, it comes from bad running habits. At Podiatry Hotline, Inc., we often see patients at the clinic who damage muscles, ligaments, and even bones due to running poorly.
Let’s take a look at a few running tips to keep your feet and body healthy. Following them may be a big help to your health.
Get a good pair of running shoes
It may seem obvious, but you would be surprised by how many people hobble around in the wrong running shoes. Often, people are led by a sense of fashion rather than what is right for them. Ill-fitting running shoes must be one of the major causes of people doing damage when running.
We recommend buying running shoes from a recognizable brand. You should look on them as an investment and spend the money on a well-made shoe.
Wear running shoes that fit well and are comfortable when running. A bad pair will soon cause problems and you will quickly regret not spending wisely.
Socks are the next step
Socks protect your feet when running. They prevent friction damage and a good pair will soak up the sweat. Running in sweat-laden socks may cause blistering and even infection.
A good pair of sports socks can reduce the effects of shock on the rest of the body. Never go running without putting on your socks.
Warm-ups are important, very important
You often see runners stretching and doing other exercises before setting off on the run. This not a good idea. You should always do a warm-up first.
By stretching the cold muscles in your legs, you increase the risk of tearing them. A warm-up of about ten minutes will have the tissue ready for the stretching exercises. Not doing a warm-up can cause problems.
Strengthen the sole
The soles of your feet are where all the action happens. They are the first parts of the body to hit the pavement, and they take all the pounding. The surprising thing is that most people do not pay enough attention to their soles and let them suffer in silence.
A few simple exercises can add strength to the area. When you are standing, at home or at work, raise the big toe, keeping the rest of the foot firmly on the ground.
Do this throughout the day and you will be adding strength to the deep muscles of the feet. Alternate from foot to foot to work on both of them.
Other exercises we like are the strengthening of the arches by standing with your bare feet on the floor. Push down with your heels and toes and you will be lifting the arches, adding valuable strength. Do these two exercises daily and you will soon feel the benefits.
Hit the ground running
A good stride is vital to good running health. We have many patients who have a bad stride or do not run correctly. It is usually too late by the time we see them, but by correcting the bad habits we can help patients keep from getting repeat injuries.
Runners who hit the surface with the front of the foot first are less likely to do damage to the feet and legs. Those who pound down on the heel can do lasting damage to the joints in the knees and the foot.
The front of the foot has padding to reduce impact, and your running shoes are designed to do the same. Changing your stride pattern will reduce muscle damage in the legs and make running much more enjoyable.
Come in for some good advice
Running can be a great exercise, but bad running habits can cause damage. If you have concerns about running, or any issues you’re having with your feet, please schedule a visit with Dr. Thomas Rambacher, DPM, FACFAS, FAPWCA.