Foot Care For Runners

How runners can look after their feet
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best feet forward

By Coach Alexa, We Run Coach for Reading

Your feet connect you to the ground, they adjust to every step you take, they absorb the impact of the ground as you run and they act as the front line in balance, agility and coordination. Your feet look after you; learn how to look after your feet! Here are some top foot care tips for runners.



Blisters are sadly a common problem for runners. They can have a whole host of different causes; new shoes wearing in, shoes that don’t quite fit your feet, longer runs where tiny areas of rubbing eventually blister, or hot or wet weather where your feet and socks get wet.

Some tips to reduce the likelihood of getting blisters when running are;

– Lubricate your feet! Vaseline, Bodyglide etc are great for this
– Double socks; wear two pairs of thin socks so the socks rub, rather than your feet
– Wear comfortable shoes that fit well
– Wear shoe with a shape that fits your foot
– Remove hard skin from your feet. This will help reduce “shear” blisters, where the hard skin moves as one whole area and the soft skin around it then blisters due to the pressure
– If you feel a hot or sore spot on your feet, stop and try to fix it before it turns into a blister! Prevention is better than cure!

Looking After Your Feet On Long Runs

Sometimes, after a longer run, the soles of your feet can be sore purely due to the distance and time spent on your feet and the impact. With time off your feet they will recover quickly. Cold foot baths or showers can really help, as well as rolling your feet over a cold bottle of water.

Your feet are more likely to swell up on a longer run, especially in the heat. Stop and adjust the laces of your shoes if you need to, so they don’t rub and blister. Wearing technical socks that wick away the sweat can also help.

Find The Right Shoes

There is no one perfect shoe for everyone; everyone’s feet are different shapes and sizes and shoe manufacturers use different “template feet” for their shoes that may or may not match yours. Try loads on and pick the shoe that most comfortable for you – this might take more time than grabbing the first pair you like the look of, but your feet will thank you down the line!

If you can, always have two pairs of running shoes on the go that you rotate. This way, the cushioning bounces back between runs, and the ‘wear pattern’ on your body from the shoes is not the same all the time.

Our feet, especially the toes, spread lengthways and widthways as we land, acting like a big spring to push us forwards again. So, you often need to get a bigger size of running shoe than normal shoe. Use the test of having a thumb width between the end of your foot and the end of the shoe (like you did when getting shoes fitted as a child) and make sure the toe area of the shoe is wide enough for your toes to spread.

Black Toenails From Running!

Some runners wear their black toenails as a badge of honour; I prefer to avoid them at all costs! When your toes and nails are in pain you can run a little differently, putting pressure on new muscles and potentially causing niggles and injuries.

Black toenails can be a sign that your shoes, or the toe area of your shoes, are too small. You could be lacing the shoes wrongly (see picture) or you may be needing to lace your shoes tighter if you are doing a lot of running downhill to prevent the feet slipping towards the toe end of the shoe.

lacing patterns

Being Kind To Your Feet

Some other ideas for being kind to your feet;

– Self massage; working around the tops, soles and toes. Spreading the toes outwards away from each other and moving them in circles. It’s nice to give our foot joints the opportunity to move; they spend so much time held in one place by shoes
– Walking barefoot around the house can really help your balance and proprioception (your awareness of where your body is in space) as well as keeping those foot and toe joints supple
– Practicing picking things up off the floor with your feet; this helps to build strength in the feet

what you need to know
  • That you can lace your shoes differently to help with a range of foot problems

  • That you can treat your feet with some self-massage

  • That black toenails are not a badge of honour!

what you need to do
  • Wear running shoes that are comfortable for you, and have plenty of room for the toes to move

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