Protecting your feet - a runner's guide

How to look after the most useful pieces of equipment you’re never without. Your feet.

From athletics and fell-running to jogging and yomping, your feet are vital pieces of kit. But they’re easily forgotten. And what’s forgotten is often neglected.

While these hard-working parts of your body can withstand a lot of wear and tear, they’re not invincible.

Follow our runners’ foot care tips before, during and after you lace up to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward.


Choose your shoes

Many running shops offer gait analysis, which can help determine the kind of support you need from your trainers. During gait analysis, the advisor will film your feet as you run on a treadmill, and analyse the way your foot strikes the ground.

Consider the terrain you’ll be running on, and make sure the shoe suits it. For track work you might need spikes, running on pavements and in parks suit a more standard shoe, while for going off-road or trail running through woodland you’ll need soles designed to grip a bit more.

Using all this information, a specialist should be able to recommend a style to suit you.

Nail it

Keep your toenails short, clean and cut straight across. Don’t be tempted to curve down the sides and ensure your shoes and socks aren’t too tight, as these can cause ingrown or discoloured nails.

If you’re already suffering, you could need medical treatment for your ingrown nails before getting back to sport.


Pay attention to pain

If your hamstring started to hurt during sport, you’d stop, right? Don’t treat your feet any differently. There are 26 bones in your foot and ankle, plus tendons, tissues, ligaments and muscles that keep you upright and dashing about. If something doesn’t feel right, stop and seek advice.

Running on a foot injury can not only make it worse, but also cause problems elsewhere. Favouring your left foot could unbalance you and cause pain on the other side of your body. Resting for a day or two is better than being off your feet for a month.


Wash up and dry up

You’ve been on your run, cooled down, stretched your muscles, rehydrated, refuelled and you feel great. Spare a thought and a moment for your throbbing feet.

Put your socks in the wash basket rather than reusing them, and air out your shoes. Time and airflow will dry even wet shoes, so don’t put them on the radiator as they could become misshapen.

In the bath or shower, wash thoroughly and then dry between your toes. Apply moisturising cream or powder according to your usual routine, and embrace bare feet or breathable socks to keep your feet cool.

Treat your feet

For instant relief. rolling a tennis ball under your arch can help to alleviate tightness – a good option if you can’t find someone willing to rub those tootsies.

And, while you might think it’s just for special occasions, a professional pedicure can help you keep your feet looking and operating at their best.

It’s a rotten myth that runners’ feet have to be hideous and smelly. They’re highly specialised pieces of equipment, so treat them with care – find your nearest beauty suite today.

Last updated Friday 7 December 2018

First published on Friday 21 April 2017