After seeing a particularly gnarly Runner’s World slideshow of ugly runner’s feet, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about runner’s feet and how to a) not get them and b) treat them if you have them.
I’m no expert in foot health, so if you have a serious foot problem, definitely see a podiatrist. The following tips are meant to help remedy or prevent common runner’s feet problems — from blisters to black toenails. Oh, and if you’re eating right now, I suggest you stop unless the word “puss” or “toe jam” doesn’t make you nauseous.
WEAR PROPER SHOES
To prevent a lot of common foot problems, make sure you’re wearing the proper shoes. I know you’ve probably heard this before, but it’s the real deal. Wearing ill-fitting shoes can cause blisters, black toe nails, and foot and knee pain. Also, if you’re an overpronator, you’ll need different shoes than someone who is a neutral runner. The best place to start looking for and getting shoes is a specialty running store. You’re running style and foot type will be evaluated, and from there you can find the shoes most appropriate for you.
PRACTICE SELF-MYOFASCIAL RELEASE (FOAM ROLLING)
It’s hard to foam roll feet, so instead you can use a tennis ball or a Yoga Tune Up ball. All you really need is 10-15 minutes, and you can do this before and after a run. Learn how to release tension in your feet in this 5-minute video.
“Should I pop this blister?”
That’s something all runners deal with eventually. Blisters hurt and they can stick around for awhile. So, is it better to drain them or let them be? I typically drain them, and I know this may make some cringe in horror. For me, draining a blister gives me immediate relief and allows me to continue my active lifestyle.
Many will tell you to leave blisters alone because of the risk of infection. I have yet to have an infection from popping a blister, but that’s a risk I take. If you’re going to pop one, make sure you sterilize your needle, and the blister and surrounding area. You want to puncture the blister’s dead, hard skin. The fluid inside may drain quickly on its own, or you may need to help it along by squeezing the blister. Do not puncture the healthy skin — that is how infections start. Do a little research and see what you’re comfortable with.
Ah, the attractive black toenail. Every runner will get at least one in his or her life. I actually got my first one last year! There are a few things that can cause black toenails: too small of a shoe, too small of a sock, and the repetition of your foot sliding forward hundreds of times while you run. For this runner’s injury, it’s really best to do nothing. However, if you do want to release the pressure from under the nail, you should check out Jeff Galloway’s steps for doing so.
DRY, CRUSTY FEET
Yuck. Dry, crusty feet. It’s a thing. How to deal? Invest in a pumice stone and foot cream. You can get both for $10 or less. The best foot cream I have found is Gold Bond Ultimate Softening Foot Cream. Use the pumice stone in the shower and scrub away all that dead skin. Spend some extra time on your heels and on the outside of your big toes. Once you’ve sloughed away all that gnarly-ness, moisturize. If you’re going to bed, you can slip some socks on, but I like to go sock-less and let my feet air out.
NOTE: If your feet are dry, red, and itchy, this could be athlete’s foot (a fungal infection). Dry skin and athlete’s foot have similar symptoms, so if a pumice stone and cream aren’t working, see a podiatrist.