Good foot care is important for everyone, but if you're a runner, your feet are especially important. A runner's feet are subject to conditions that non-runners don't usually have to deal with, and a foot problem can keep you off the track for some time. Unfortunately, many runners make foot care mistakes due to bad information or misconceptions about foot care. Take a look at some common foot care mistakes that runners make, and find out how to avoid them.
Running Without Socks
Running without socks increases the chances that you'll experience a foot injury. Sure, your shoes are protecting your feet from the ground, but your socks add an additional layer of protection that's necessary for the heavy activity that your feet get when you run.
Your socks prevent friction from building up between the skin on your feet and the inside of your shoe. Avoiding this friction can help prevent blisters and infections that can seriously slow you down. Socks can also help keep moisture away from your feet, though it may not seem that way if you're running in especially hot and humid conditions.
If you find that your socks get too wet and uncomfortable from sweating on long runs, the best solution is another pair of socks. Choose socks made from a synthetic fabric that wick sweat from your feet, and stash an extra pair somewhere along your running route. That way, when your first pair can't keep up with the sweat anymore, you have a fresh pair.
Running a Race in New Sneakers
Buying a brand-new pair of sneakers for the next big competition sounds logical. After all, you want your footwear to be in the best shape possible to give you the edge you need to win, right?
The only problem is that brand-new footwear probably isn't in the best shape for your needs as a runner. The shoes that will serve you best in a stiff competition are sneakers that are not worn out, but have been broken in enough that they mold to the particular shape of your feet.
The best strategy to prevent you from having to choose between old, worn out sneakers or new, unbroken-in sneakers on the day of a big race is to find a brand and model you like, and buy several pairs of them. Alternate wearing each pair during your trainings and workouts. That way, your sneakers won't wear out as quickly, and when a competition comes up, you'll have several pairs of broken-in shoes to choose from.
Walking Through The Locker Room Barefoot
After a good run, you probably can't wait to hit the showers. But don't be in such a hurry that you forget to put on your shower shoes.
Wearing flip-flops in the shower isn't the most convenient thing in the world, but it's worth doing. Keep in mind that people walk through the same locker rooms and shower tiles wearing their shoes, so if you walk through them barefoot, your feet will be picking up whatever was on the bottom of everyone else's shoes. Not only is that a recipe for athlete's foot, it's a great way to get an infection if you have a blister or open wound on your foot.
Make sure to protect any open injuries on your feet – bandage them properly, and if the bandages get wet from sweat or showering, have fresh first-aid materials on hand so that you can change them. Wear your shower shoes in the locker room showers, and make sure to take the time to slip them off long enough clean between your toes and the soles of your feet while you're showering. This will help keep you from developing athlete's foot or something worse.
If you have a foot injury or infection, don't try to treat it yourself. Seek out the advice of a good podiatrist that has experience with runners and other athletes. They'll be able to treat your foot problem effectively and help you come up with strategies to protect your feet in the future.