Top 10 Runners' Foot Injury Prevention List

If you are a dedicated runner, you are at risk for more foot injuries than the average exerciser. Prevention of injuries is always best. If you train to run races such as 5Ks, 10Ks, marathons or triathlons, your risk for foot injuries increase even more. I have seen more than one friend over-training for these events and literally "running themselves into the ground."

Repetitive stress injuries like plantar fasciitis, runner's knee and Achilles tendinitis are just a few of the injuries you should try and prevent. Its just common sense for runners to take care of their feet. Many of you don't adequately care for your feet.

Did you know that every stride you take while running applies a force of 3-4 times your body weight across your knees, ankles and feet? Enough said!

New York City podiatrist, Dr. Oliver Zong, is one of the premier cosmetic foot surgeons in the country. He serves as the Director of Surgery at NYC FootCare and is on the Board of Directors at Gramercy Park Surgery Center. Dr. Zong offers foot related advice and tips to runners training for and participating in the New York City Marathon.

So, here is Dr. Zong's Top 10 injury prevention list for runners:

1. Stretching. Stretching primes the body for the strenuous activity. Stretch before and after running. Concentrate on the calves, hamstrings, quads and feet.

2. Shoes. Invest in a good pair of running shoes. They provide specific impact support that running demands. If your feet sweat heavily during running, try putting talcum powder in your shoes to keep feet dry.

3. Orthotics. If you have arch or heel pain, you may be a perfect candidate for orthotics. Visit a podiatrist to inquire about purchasing orthotics for your shoes.

4. Socks. Cotton socks absorb moisture. For a long run like a marathon, your feet may require a synthetic sock (containing acrylic), which helps alleviate moisture from your skin. Make sure that the seams of your socks are not in an area of pressure, which can lead to a lot of pain. If you cannot find a comfortable location for the seams, try turning socks inside out.

5. Anti-Inflammatory Medications. Do not pop Advil or Aleve before a race to prevent aches that may arise during the race. Save this treatment for the day after the race. Taking anti-inflammatory medications will mask any pain that is felt during the race and can lead to more serious injury. Pain is a valuable feedback mechanism that you need to pay attention to during a long run.

6. Groom Toenails. Make sure your toenails are not long before a race. They should not extend past the tip of your toe and should be shaped in a straight cut. If you do not properly groom your toenails before a marathon, you run the risk of developing an ingrown nail or even a fungal nail.

7. Toes. If you have a tendency to develop corns and callouses on the tips of your toes, try adding padding in your sneakers underneath your toes. If your toes or toenails turn black, you may have developed subungual hematoma (bleeding under the nails). This may cause nails to fall off. Keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection and seek treatment from your podiatrist.

8. Blisters. Blisters are the results of excessive friction between shoes and feet. Take preventative steps by making sure shoes fit properly and are laced up so that they are form fitting to your feet. If you are prone to blisters, apply Vaseline to problem areas prior to your run or try padded "blister proof" socks like those made by Thorlo. Additionally, applying moleskin to problem areas also prevents blisters from forming.

9. Visit Your Podiatrist. Dr. Zong's patients who run in the New York City Marathon make appointments the entire week before the race to get rid of corns, callouses, get moleskin, have their orthodics padded, and in some cases receive cortisone injections for their heel spurs (plantar fasciitis).

10. Finish Line. When the race is complete Dr. Zong says practice RICE:

a. Rest your feet.
b. Ice helps keep inflammation and swelling down.
c. Compression with ACE wraps will also reduce swelling.
d. Elevation will help your feet rest up for the next big run.

Dr. Zong is credited with coining the terms, "Foot Makeover", "Foot Facelift", "The Toe Tuck", and "High Heel Feet".

Read my article series on lower leg running injuries.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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About Mark

Hi, I'm Mark Dilworth, Nutritionist, Dietary Strategies Specialist, Nutrition for Metabolic Health Specialist and Lifestyle Weight Management Specialist. Since 2006, I have helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle habit changes which includes body transformation and ideal body weight.