Wednesday, October 17, 2018

How to prepare your feet for a marathon

If you are planning on running in a marathon expect on average to take between 30,000-40,000 steps during its course. While the impact on each foot coming in contact with the ground can equate to almost three times your weight.  So, if your feet are bothering you - it's going to be a long and painful 26 miles.

Here are a few tips to help keep your feet healthy and happy!

First of all, you need to be running in a proper pair of sneakers.  For avid distance runners, I typically do not change the shoe they are running in.  These runners tend to be running shoe specialists on their own.   However, I do remind them that they need to be changed every 300-500 miles for a new pair.

If this is your first marathon, you also do not want to run in an old sneaker.However, and this applies to long distance aficionados as well - you do not want to run in a brand new pair! They should be broken in for a few months before you set out on race day.  Make sure you have been measured by a reputable running shoe store to ensure that they fit appropriately.  Always stand up when trying on sneakers.  There should be room between your toes and the end of the sneaker.  Your feet will swell over the race, and the shoe size needs to accommodate for that.  Also, not everyone's large toe is their longest.  Some people need to measure by their second toe for sneakers.  If you are unsure if the sneaker you have is appropriate, then bring it to a Podiatrist (preferably my office) to check it out!

Socks are important as well.  The best socks for running are light weight, but also made of materials that wick away moisture.  Regular cotton socks are not going to cut it and will more than likely lead to increased blister causing friction, because they do no wick away the moisture.  The good news is that socks are cheaper than shoes, so I recommend buying a few brands and experimenting before race day.  I like the brands, Wright Socks and Feetures.

The length of your toe-nails is important on race day.  They should be properly clipped and filed.  If your nails are too long they will bang at the front of the sneaker's toe box which will result in black and blue toenails, which usually become nails that will fall off after race day - or ingrown toe nails.

Keeping skin smooth and hydrated is important year round for runners.  If you have cracked heels, those can be painful while pounding the pavement and an easy entry portal for bacteria and fungus.  Removing calluses the day before a race isn't recommended.  A week before is perfect timing- which gives the skin a chance to rebound.  Using blister bandages on sore spots is a good treatment option, as well as anti-chafing lubricants.  Silicon based ones are the best, BodyGlide is a good anti-chafing product.  I sell a few options for moisturizers in my office, depending on your level of severity.

Another good year long practice is spraying your shoes out to kill the viruses that cause warts or fungus.  Athlete's foot infections, are named that for a reason! Fortinia is a good brand of shoe spray and I sell it in my office.  Also, if you feel that your feet are very sweaty, try to apply an over the counter roll-on antiperspirant to dry them out.  If that doesn't work, the Podiatree company also makes a good product to reduce sweating  that I sell in my office.

Preferably, change to a different pair of sneakers for the next running day to allow your shoes to dry out.  Therefore, it's always a good idea to have two pairs of the same sneaker that you alternate with from one day to the next.

After a long distance run, such as a marathon, expect that your feet will be swollen.  Immediately elevating and icing will help to reduce this inflammation and help to prevent pain. Massaging the feet will also give you some immediate relief.  You can use a tennis ball or racquetball while sitting or standing, while applying pressure, roll the ball along your arch or any other hot spot that needs attention.

That brings me to stretching.  There are many theories on stretching.  I believe in it and think it becomes much more vital as we age.  Here is a very informative list made up by Aurora healthcare that demonstrates some good stretching.  Don't run the race "cold", warm up before hand.  A round of jumping jacks, running in place, and then stretching will get you warmed up!

Training for a marathon may be the hardest thing that you do - but the rewards of finishing it will out way the blood, sweat and tears created getting to the finish line.  But, I'm always available should your sore feet need some advice before or after race day.  Good luck!

Dr. Jennifer Tauber, is a podiatrist at New Canaan Podiatry, LLC.  107 Cherry Street New Canaan, CT 06840.

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