Matthew Fitzpatrick, Consultant Podiatrist from the College of Podiatry and lead podiatrist for the London Marathon, gives his top foot health tips to runners.
Prepare your footwear right
Make sure your running shoes can still do the job. Most high-quality running shoes should be replaced between 300 and 500 miles, or about four to six months for someone who runs 20 miles per week.
It can be seen that over time, running shoes become stretched and lose their shock absorbency and support to your feet.
Don’t ignore pain
Ongoing and frequent pain in the feet, ankles and legs when you run could be a sign that your footwear doesn’t fit correctly, or you have a musculoskeletal issue in your lower limbs which needs addressing.
Common complaints that runners can experience include a throbbing pain in the arch of the foot, pain in the heel and localised pain on the top of the foot.
These could be conditions such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis or even a stress fracture. Ignoring these symptoms can result in long term damage so visit a podiatrist for correct diagnosis and treatment.
But don’t change your running shoes!
Don’t change your running shoes too close to a race day. It is advisable to wear them for a good five to six weeks before a race to ensure they are comfortable and your feet are accustomed to the shoe.
After the race
If you have a blister…
When deciding how to manage a blister, you should first consider its size. If the blister is small and not causing a problem while wearing trainers or shoes, you can cut a hole in a piece of foam to form a doughnut over the blister. Tape the foam in place or cover with a soft gel-type dressing to protect it while it heals.
Should the blister be so large that you are unable to wear footwear, then carefully bursting but not removing the overlying skin will help.
Ensure the area is then covered with a clean and dry dressing and monitor its progress. If it is open and there is raw skin underneath, then consider using an antimicrobial dressing– especially if the blister is dirty or looking infected. Using a clean, dry dressing with a non-stick part is advisable.
Most foot blisters last between three and seven days and will normally clear up if further excessive friction is avoided.
If you have nail damage…
The first step to take is to determine the extent to which your nail has been affected. If the nail is very loose, you might consider removing it, but it is advisable to see a podiatrist to assist with this.
If the nail is not significantly affected then the key, as with blisters, is to protect and reduce any further damage to the nail.
Occasionally, the damage may mean there is a blood blister under the nail and this can lead to pressure building up, which may cause more local damage.
If the area is disproportionately painful, then you should seek further advice from a podiatrist.
Look for signs of fractures
Swelling and bruising are two symptoms runners need to look out for, as this can indicate the presence of a simple fracture, even if there is no noticeable pain.
In some cases, these fractures will be painful; however, when the adrenaline surges, we can sometimes push on and don’t focus on innocuous symptoms.
If swelling occurs for a prolonged period or a new bruise develops over a few days, then it is recommended that you seek advice from a podiatrist. Better safe than sorry!
See a podiatrist
If your foot injuries do not resolve themselves naturally or through routine footcare within three weeks, then you should visit a podiatrist.
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