I would say there’s not enough attention given to the feet when running or marathon training. The training is so much about leg strengthening, stretching and endurance. There’s only so much time in a day and I think feet are too often neglected. With my brief plantar fasciitis incident, I researched a lot about foot problems, eager to prevent the arch pain in the future. Coincidentally an article in Runner’s World and Wall Street Journal came out during the past two weeks regarding foot health. That’s why this topic deserves (at least!) two blog posts this week.
First of all, Mike and I finally got new Superfeet inserts for our sneakers. Superfeet come in a variety of colors/styles for different foot arches, etc. I don’t remember when I got my first pair of Superfeet but it was at least 2 years ago (definitely too long ago). I had originally gotten them because I was having hip pain from running. I went to Pacers running store to ask if it was the sneakers I was wearing, although I had been fitted for them. The manager at Pacers spent a significant amount of time with me, watching me run on the treadmill and walk with and without sneakers. He determined that, even with my supportive sneakers, I still roll my feet and shift my hips out of alignment. The Green Superfeet made a difference right away by helping align my legs and eliminate my knee and hip pain. Mike went in the following week to ask if Superfeet could help with his knee pain. He even wears the orange Superfeet in his work shoes because they help so much. My knees were feeling pretty sore at the end of the long run, which could have been due simply to the high mileage but I hope the new Superfeet will help! When I asked at Pacers how often Superfeet should be replaced, the sales person said about every 2 pairs of shoes. I haven’t found a consistent answer online but I know I’m long overdue for a new pair. I’m not sure if I want to tackle the long run this week with new Superfeet or if it would be better to break them in slowly with some shorter runs.
An interesting article appeared last week in the Wall Street Journal about improving foot health. Doctors say that people often don’t pay attention to foot pain, which can lead to other problems such as back pain. In addition, podiatrists are seeing more and more people with foot problems, partly due to more people running marathons, adding pressure on the feet. Wearing the right shoes and even getting orthodics or inserts, if needed, is so important and can prevent larger problems from happening. This article had some great suggestions on ways to strengthen and stretch the feet and surrounding muscles, such as:
– Before you get out of bed in the morning, sit up with your legs straight in front of you; point your toes toward you and then away. This warms up the achilles tendon and fascial band, helping with plantar fasciitis prevention.
– Roll a tennis ball under each foot to help stimulate nerve endings, therefore, helping to prevent injury.
– Picking up marbles with your toes (like I did in PT) strengthens toe muscles and the center of the foot.
Other foot health tips:
– elevate feet whenever able
– wear shoes when walking on hard surfaces (including indoors) to prevent muscle strain and misalignment
So pay attention to any foot pain, wear comfortable shoes, and take care of your feet! I found it to be immensely helpful to be fitted for a pair of sneakers based on my running style. Sometimes you pay a little more, but it’s worth it to be comfortable and prevent pain and injury.
Steps to Better Foot Health by Angela Chen, WSJ 9/16/13