It may seem obvious, but feet are essential to running. When we run, our feet absorb more pressure than any other part of the body, but despite this, very few runners give their feet the care they deserve.
Before a run, we stretch our hamstrings, and make sure we’re hydrated and nourished, but most of us just stick our feet into a pair of running shoes and go.
After our knees, feet are the most frequently injured body part for runners. Whether you’re suffering from serious issues like a stress fracture or Achilles tendinitis, or more minor injuries like blisters, runner’s toe, or bunions, a foot injury can be extremely painful and highly disruptive.
That’s why it’s important to protect your feet. Here are a few ways you can do that:
Running shoes come in a wide variety of fits and sizes, and making sure you select the right one is essential for all runners. Proper foot support will help to reduce niggling injuries that can be caused easily by ill-fitting shoes.
Running shoes that are too short can cause runner’s toe and black toenails, while shoes that are too narrow lead to bunions, calluses and even pinched nerve pain. It’s important to not overcompensate with larger shoes, which won’t offer proper foot support, leading to the foot sliding around. This can easily cause blisters and other more serious injuries.
While most shoe shops carry a good range of standard sizes, if you have specific needs such as wide or narrow feet, then your options will be slimmer. Runners with high arches, orthotics wearers, or anyone else who needs foot arch support, will require deeper shoes to avoid injury. Visiting a specialist running store is probably the best bet to ensure you find the right size shoe.
As well as buying running shoes that fit, ensuring you have proper foot arch support is essential to protecting your feet. The human foot can vary in shape a surprising amount, and running shoes for flat feet provide totally different support to running shoes for high arches.
Generally speaking, people with normal arches are better at shock absorption. If you have high arches, then orthotics can help to improve your shock absorption and offer better support when running. Although more expensive, it’s better to use a custom-made insole than an off-the-shelf option, as this will provide better support.
If you’re flat footed, this makes you more susceptible to injuries like shin splints, flat feet pain, knee tendonitis and back issues. This is due to overpronation, where the arches roll inwards when walking and running. To give you proper arch support, you will need to buy specifically designed running shoes for flat feet. These are widely available online and through specialist running shops.
Finally, socks are also an important piece of running equipment, with poorly fitting or inappropriate socks one of the main causes of blisters and athlete’s foot for runners. Specially-designed running socks are made from lightweight, water-resistant materials that are designed to increase breathability, reduce friction and move moisture away from the foot.
There are variety of running socks on the market, which utilise different materials and thicknesses. Remember, the same pair of socks won’t work all year round – so stock up on plenty of different varieties, and see which ones work best for you.
Protecting your feet is essential for any runner, and by wearing the right shoes, socks and support, you can seriously reduce the chances of many different minor and major injuries.