” ..an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
Foot injuries are common among runners and injuries never seem to occur at a convenient time. They can be expensive and take you out of the event that you have been training for. Avoiding an injury is your best strategy. While these suggestions will not always prevent an injury, they can be helpful to ensure that you are functioning at your best level. Also, healthy individuals get injured less than athletes that don’t eat well, rest, and take care of their bodies. Here are a few suggestions that will help you “go the distance” and enjoy your life.
Make sure you are using the proper shoe.
Essentially, you want to make sure that the shoe bends well just behind the toes, and is stable through the rest of the foot. We have linked our guidelines for proper shoe selection here to assist you in your footwear preferences. Too much motion in the arch area is not a good feature. Make sure the heel counter of the shoe is stable and supports the heel in an upright position. If the heel is tilting to the inside or the outside, this will put a lot of stress on the foot and predispose you to an injury. Avoid shoes with a thicker and stiff sole that do not bend well. Also, shoes that bend through the entire foot like a pretzel, when you flex them are not good either, and be careful with minimalist shoes. Some of these minimalist styles can cause foot injury and you need to work into these shoes very gradually.
An insole is generally a good idea if you will be running. The insole should cushion the heel and promote proper motion of the foot, so the toes can bend upward. If the toes bend properly, the plantar fascia will get stretched when you walk or run and this can help prevent plantar fasciitis. As the toes bend normally, this also stabilizes the arches, and this is necessary so that the ankle can move properly. The insole should support the arches to some degree, but if they provide too much support to the arches, this can be detrimental. Your foot has three arches and each one of these should be supported. Not all insoles are created equal, and the Lux Step provides all of these features, that are lacking in other insole products. Getting the foot tuned up and working right will go a long way toward the prevention of unwanted injuries.
Stretch regularly to prevent foot injuries.
If you are sitting most of the day, remember to get up and move around every couple of hours. The hip flexors, hamstrings and Achilles’ tendon (heel cord), and other muscles can become very tight when sitting for long times. When these muscles are tight, your movement is affected, and this will impair your performance and predispose you to injury.
When you walk, think about walking at a fast pace, a long stride, and rolling through the foot properly. As we age, we tend to shorten our stride and walk at a slower pace. By keeping the foot mobile and stretching, you should be able to avoid this negative effect of aging and reduce your potential for injury at the same time. In other words, walk like you mean it! When running, a shorter stride will lessen the impact on your hip and knees, but still think of rolling through the front part of the foot properly, to make sure your foot is working normally. The foot needs to move in the front area behind the toes to work well and make sure you are allowing normal movement on the ball of your foot.
Get proper sleep.
Sleep helps your body recover well from a workout and keeps your body healthy. Sleep contributes to an athlete’s ability to perform, and resist and recover from injury. Actually, most adult athletes get less than seven hours of sleep at night, which a recent study found this to be not enough sleep overall. See this site for more information.
Reduce your oxidative stress.
Choose to run in areas where the air quality is good, and minimize sun exposure with proper clothing and sunscreens. Choosing the area you run in may make a big difference in your health. Just moving away from the freeways, and into a greener area may be possible. Can you think of an area near you that has less traffic and congestion? Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke from another individual. Avoid overeating and try to use alcohol in moderation. Another item to consider is to use caution with some chemical cleaners and pesticides. Good common sense will go a long way for you, when exercising and training.
This summer in Montana we have had bad air quality most of the summer because of forest fires. Running or heavy exertion in these conditions is unhealthy for you and should be avoided. To avoid this, going indoors on these days and running in filtered air is better. In our area, air quality reports are available through the weather apps., and warnings are posted when conditions become unhealthy. See this link for more details on what chemicals to particularly avoid exposure to.
Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids.
With exercise you may be losing fluids more rapidly than your brain tells you to drink, so make a habit of regular fluid replacement at scheduled time intervals. It will be difficult for you to over-hydrate when exercising. Water is essential, and some people recommend electrolyte replacement in addition to plain water also. Drink when you are thirsty even if you are not exercising. However, be careful, drinking too much water can make you more likely to develop some injuries so listen to your body, because it will tell you when you are thirsty.
Start out slowly when beginning on a new sport.
When you begin a new activity, such as running, increase your workout intensity and mileage gradually. Work with a certified athletic trainer for assistance in developing a training plan to gradually increase your speed and distance over-time. They will be able to determine your overall abilities and train you correctly. Do not try to do too much too soon and plan well in advance, for the big events coming up. This website may be of some help if you want to do this on your own.
Consider a low inflammation diet.
Reviewing what you are eating and researching a low inflammation diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, may be helpful. These resources can provide more information on this type of eating plan. I eliminated gluten from my diet and noticed a remarkable improvement in recovering from an intense workout. I am not saying this will work with everyone, but your diet does make a big difference in your overall health and well-being.
Now that you have these tools, implementation of these recommendations may save you a lot of grief and make running much more enjoyable. Exercise is important for your overall mental and physical health, and we wish you well on your journey to take care of yourself.