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Common Foot Problems for Runners and What You Can Do About Them

Woman Massaging Feet
Running is a great way to stay in shape. However, if you are not careful, then you can harm your feet through poor running form, bad shoe fit, or incorrect training practices. Runners can experience numerous foot problems as they train, but most of these problems are minor and can be prevented.
Learn about the most common foot problems runners can experience and what you can you do to keep your feet and toes in good condition during the running season. 

Toenail Loss or Thickening

Runners often have trouble with their toenails over the course of their training. 
Shoes that are too small usually cause toenail loss. Another issue for beginning runners is that they run in street shoes. When you run, your feet have increased blood flow and experience temporary inflammation. This causes the foot to swell, so your normal street shoe size is not right for your foot. 
Your running shoes should be a half size or even a full size larger than the shoe you wear on a daily basis. This way, your toenails won't hurt from constantly slamming into the top of your shoe. This motion eventually causes bruising, and with consistent activity, the nail itself begins to die slowly. 
The stress of running can also cause the toenails to thicken. Some thickening is natural; it's your body's response to make your feet less susceptible to injury. However, if your nails get too thick or seem painful because of the changes, you should see a podiatrist to rule out foot fungus or to have the nail filed down. 


A blister or two is inevitable in runners, especially when you're training for long distances or breaking in a new pair of shoes. However, blisters should be the exception - not the rule. 
To avoid blisters, wear proper running socks with your shoes. Never use thin dress socks for running. Socks with a compression strip around the arch stay more stable, reducing friction against the foot. You want your sock to take the rub, instead of your skin. 
Break new shoes in gradually - don't immediately switch to a new pair. Use your new shoes for short and alternate between new and old until your new shoes feel completely comfortable. 
If you get blisters between your toes, you might use some powder to absorb moisture. You could also try using some petroleum jelly to keep your toes from rubbing together to cause blistering. Sometimes, blisters can occur because your toenails are too long and they rub against the toe next to it. 
You can also get blisters from repetitive, unprecedented activity. For example, if you are used to running three miles, and suddenly double that distance to six miles, then you might develop a blister on the heel or ball of your foot simply because your feet are not used to that level of performance. Gradually increase running length and intensity to prevent blisters. 

Cramping and Soreness

If you get cramps in your feet after a run, first drink a large glass of water. Dehydration can cause very painful muscle tightening in the arch of the foot. 
You can also get cramps from electrolyte loss. After a run, replenish your body's needed minerals by eating recovery foods like bananas (for potassium), nuts and seeds (for magnesium), and dairy or dark leafy greens (for calcium). 
Take some time to pamper your feet after a long run. You might massage them gently, working out sore places like the arch. After a particularly hard workout, you might take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen to help reduce swelling.
For more information on caring for your feet, contact us at Huntsville Podiatry Center PC.


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