Sock (And Shoe) It To 'Em: Foot Care For Summer Runners
With the long, bright days that warm weather brings firmly in place, you might be thinking that it's a great time to boost your summer workout routine with some outdoor running (or jogging, or walking, depending on the state of your joints). While summer is definitely the season of fun, taking your workout outside can be bad news for your feet if you're not careful with them. So if you're looking for a few ways to have your outdoor fun without ending up with tired, swollen, or even damaged feet, then here's what you need to know.
Watch the Fit
Your body gets tired much more quickly during the warm season than it does in the cool, on account of your body having to work that much harder to equalize its temperature and keep you from burning up – and you don't want your feet to have to work harder at the same time as well, or you'll be left with no energy. To circumvent this trouble, check the fit on your running shoes; they should be snug (to prevent rubbing and blisters) without pinching, should be able to work well no matter what socks are clean that day, and (most importantly) should hug your arch to perfection. Shoe inserts are good if your shoes fit well enough for everyday errands but not for running; they can mold to your arch, support the balls of your feet, and cushion your heel for a perfect fit that'll keep you running all summer long.
Stuffing your feet in socks and shoes everyday is a great way to keep fit, true, but it can also cause your feet to overheat without giving a means for the hot air and inevitable moisture to escape – a recipe for nasty fungal infections, ingrown toenails, and swollen feet if there ever was one. To protect your feet against these problems, ensure your shoes have the proper ventilation – such as air holes or (even better) mesh tops – and that your socks are made to wick moisture away from your foot rather than (like cotton) insulating it in. The best fabrics you can choose are merino wool and polyester; brands like DryMax and CoolMax are also good choices, as they're literally designed by scientists to help keep your feet cool and dry.
Take Extra Care
The best way to keep your feet healthy and strong during your outdoor runs, however, happens after the run – the aftercare. Make sure to wash your feet when you shower, taking care to pumus off rough edges and dry skin that might catch on your socks and tear, creating open sores on your feet. If your feet are pulsating and aching after a run, propping them up above your heart (easy enough when lying on the couch – just put them up on a pillow) to ensure regular bloodflow will help them calm down and be ready for action the next day.
Work with a running podiatrist to further ensure foot health.