Spring is here and while we may be excited to become active outside again, it’s important not to jump into anything head on. Caring for a runner’s feet is the first step into easing back into an active outdoor lifestyle and it’s important not to ignore or avoid foot care. To keep your feet in shape for running, follow these foot care tips.
Swinging into Spring
See your doctor. If it’s been a while since you’ve run, especially outdoors, so it’s important to obtain a physical examination from your primary doctor before doing so. If you plan on running a 5k or another foot race, getting the OK from your doctor is essential. This is only a precautionary tip so athletes aren’t shocked or hurt during their first swing back into spring running.
Examine your shoes. The second tip to take before running in the spring is to take a look at your running shoes. Active running shoes should be worn for just 6 months if their weekly mileage is between 9 and 12 miles. Those who are not active runners may have more longevity with their running shoes.
Ease into your running routine. Shin splints are something to also be wary of. Those who decide to jump right in may suffer from them more frequently, but those who build up to running longer distances will prevent shin splints by easing into it. Don’t allow your body to become burned out by running on hard surfaces much too quickly.
Moisturize your feet. Even though it may not be wintertime, improper foot care can still cause fissures in your feet while running. Lack of hydration can not only cause harm to other areas of the body, but also to the feet, which need moisture for their thin skin. Proper socks, foot care and moisturizing prevent and reduce painful, cracked feet.
Don’t ignore pain. If you have pain after or during running, it’s not necessarily “weakness leaving the body.” Pain indicates that something is wrong or that a ligament or appendage is under stress. Walking it off doesn’t work because pain needs pinpoint care. For runners, any type of pain should be looked at immediately before running again. There’s a specific method called RICE that allows runners and other athletes to determine whether or not they should schedule an appointment with their doctor.
The RICE Method
The RICE method stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Resting means making a change in your routine to reduce the pain. This could mean stopping running altogether until the painful area is healed. The next part of the RICE method is the “ice” tip. Icing the painful area three times a day for no more than 15 minutes each time will allow the swelling to go down. It’s important that the ice or coldness doesn’t directly touch the skin. Next, compression of the painful area also reduces swelling. Wrap the painful area with an elastic bandage (Ace bandage) to compress the muscles. A forewarning to the over-compressors: never compress an area too tightly because this can increased swelling. Any time there is a type of pain or swelling after applying compression, the bandage needs to be loosened at once.
Last but not least in the RICE method, “E” stands for elevation. When sitting or lying down, use a pillow or an ottoman with a pillow to elevate the painful area above heart level to reduce swelling and pain.
If these tips and the RICE method don’t work to manage, reduce and eliminate your pain, it may be time to eliminate running from your daily routine and call your primary physician for more help.