Feet bear the brunt of running. That’s why they are constructed such that you generally get away with the relentless pounding and twisting you inflict when out on the trails. Even so, there are some very common afflictions most runners will have to deal with. Let’s get into the top 3 here. How to avoid – or treat if necessary.
#1 ATHLETE’S FOOT
A really bad case of Athlete’s foot…
This fungal infection results in dry, scaly, red skin between the toes that can itch or burn. Because fungus thrives in warm, moist environments, summertime is a ripe time for athlete’s foot. “Running in the heat magnifies the sweat production on the soles,” Dr. Adams says.
Wear light, moisture-wicking, synthetic (not cotton) socks, says Stephen Pribut, D.P.M., a sports podiatrist in Washington, D.C. After you run, change out of your soggy socks and shoes and slip into dry after-sport shoes before you go for coffee or run errands. Don’t stash your sweaty pair inside a dark gym bag or your trunk where they can’t air out. You can also sprinkle antifungal powder on your feet before running.
Apply an antifungal cream for at least four weeks, even if symptoms appear to be gone in half that time, to make sure the infection is gone, says Dr. Adams. Soothe the itch by soaking your feet for 10 minutes in equal portions lukewarm water and apple-cider vinegar (which has antifungal properties). If the condition persists, see a dermatologist, who may prescribe an oral antifungal.
Related: 4 tricks to prevent chafing and irritation
“This is probably the number-one raceday injury,” says Paul Langer, a Minneapolis podiatrist and 26-time marathoner. These fluid-filled bubbles are caused by friction, excessive moisture (sweaty feet, wet weather), or shoes that are too small, too big, or tied too tight.
Buying properly fitted running shoes may sound like a nobrainer, but consider this: “Studies show that fewer than half of people’s running shoes were fit correctly,” Pribut says. Because your feet can expand a halfsize over a day, shop in the late afternoon or evening. If you’ve been on a running hiatus, don’t assume you can jump into your old pair. As you age, your feet flatten and lengthen, so you may need to go up a size. If you get toe blisters, Bruce Williams, an Indiana-based sports podiatrist, suggests “toe socks,” which fit like a glove (rather than like a mitten). Putting Vaseline, sports lube, and bandages over blister-prone spots may also help.
“Ignore blisters smaller than five millimeters (the size of a pencil eraser) since they’re usually not painful,” says Gregory G. Papadeas, D.O., a Denver dermatologist. But go ahead and pop doozies, especially if they hurt. With a sterile needle, prick the side of the blister and drain it. Don’t remove the blister roof—cover it with an antibiotic ointment and moleskin or a bandage. If you feel a hot spot midrun, address possible causes: Are your socks bunching up? Is your heel slipping? Are your laces too tight? “If the blister hurts so badly that you’re forced to change your gait, you’re better off walking versus risking injury,” Pribut says.
#3 RUNNER’S TOES
During flip-flop season, it’s easy to pick out distance runners. Many marathoners and ultrarunners have discolored toenails, since the more miles you log, the more likely you are to bruise your nails. Lots of downhill running and too-small shoes can exacerbate the issue—both cause your toes to slam into the front of your shoe. Biomechanics are a factor, too. “Some runners pull their toes up while running,” Williams says. “If the toes are chronically lifted against the upper toebox of the shoe, it can cause toenail irritation.” Also, Williams says an unstable big-toe joint can make the other four toes grip too hard (and bruise) upon landing.
Wear properly fitted shoes and trim nails regularly. “Long nails get injured more easily,” Williams says.
A bruised nail usually heals on its own within six months. If it’s really painful, see a podiatrist who can drain fluid from under the nail. Also, if it’s a chronic problem, a sports podiatrist could help you determine if toe-lifting and toegripping are to blame, in which case an orthotic may be a fix.
Source. Images: wikipedia.