How to Keep Your Feet Fit this Summer
Without a doubt, exercise offers many benefits, but it’s crucial to make sure you are looking after your feet. The theme for The College of Podiatry's Feet for Life Month in June is ‘fit feet’. The campaign aims to raise awareness about the importance of good foot care when taking part in sports.You only get one pair of feet, so it's important to look after them!
- Footwear is the biggest cause of foot problems in the UK, say podiatrists[i]
- The foot is one of the body’s most intricate ‘machines’ - with 26 bones
- The average person uses their feet to walk 150,000 miles in a lifetime (equivalent to walking around the world five times)
- A young adult’s foot produces about an egg cup of sweat on a summer’s day, so give them some air time. Don’t keep them smothered in airless trainers, synthetic socks or plastic boots, day in day out
- Running increases the pressure on the foot by up to seven times.
When you run, your body weight is multiplied by up to seven times, with your feet bearing the brunt of this stress at every stride. The demands made on feet and lower limbs can lead to a range of injuries, including sprained ankles, torn ligaments, shin pain, knee pain, and joint and muscle problems.
The rest of your body will suffer too, if you do not have the right trainers. Wearing good supportive footwear is vital to avoid long-term problems and injury. Getting the right shoe really cuts down on the likelihood of suffering a sports-related injury. Here's six ways you can look after your feet:
- Choose the correct footwear for the sport - If running is your thing, buy a running shoe which has adequate cushioning in the midsole and a flared heel for stability. However, if it’s a racket sport such as tennis, buy shoes designed for racket sports that give better stability when moving and stopping suddenly around the court - a running shoe wouldn’t be suitable for this due to lack of lateral support.
- Follow the 1cm rule - when shopping for the perfect sportswear ensure you can wiggle your toes a little – leave 1cm of room from the top of your longest toe to the end of your shoe. Try on both shoes and walk around the shop to make sure they don’t pinch or rub. Trying shoes on in the afternoon helps as your feet can swell throughout the day.
- Always wear socks - to reduce the risk of fungal infection and blisters. The best running socks are ones that are made from synthetic materials which are designed to keep sweat away from the skin, as they don’t absorb moisture like 100% cotton socks, and keep the feet drier.
- Warm up and stretch - before starting any form of exercise, stretch and warm up your entire body and then stretch and cool down at the end of every session.
- Prepare your body – incorporate strength and flexibility exercises into your regime to ensure that your body is in the best possible condition for exercise and sport and think about your diet – a healthy body is linked to healthy eating
- Seek expert advice if necessary – if you have ongoing foot pain that doesn’t go away, have it examined by a podiatrist.
Finally, remember, your feet should not hurt. If you are in pain or need foot health advice visit a podiatrist. During June, podiatrists are offering free foot health checks around the UK in local gyms, golf clubs, libraries and health clubs so you can make sure your feet are ready to ‘Step into Action’. Visit www.feetforlife.org to find a health check near you and for other foot health information.
[i] A survey amongst 60 UK registered podiatrists carried out through Survey Monkey between January-May 2013