Perhaps you’re a running pro, or maybe you are preparing to run a 5K as motivation to get in shape. No matter your fitness level, training is key.
Whether you’re a boundary pusher or someone who wants to follow a regimented training program, injuries can happen. That’s why it’s essential to take care of your feet while training for your next race.
Here are three tips to help you stop running injuries in their tracks.
Start with prevention
Any kind of training, relaxed to rigorous, should include injury prevention. For example, stretching your calves before and after exercise helps prevent plantar fasciitis, a common injury, says Tatyana Hamilton, DPM, a podiatrist with TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute.
Proper footwear is also a necessity.
“I always recommend being fitted for athletic shoes because many types of running shoes exist for all the various foot types,” Dr. Hamilton says.
While custom shoes might not be necessary, you should find a pair that fits properly.
“Your typical athletic shoe may not account for things like foot width, arch variability, or even toe length, so it’s important to find a pair of shoes that are for your specific foot type,” Dr. Hamilton says.
Pay attention to symptoms
Even with prevention strategies, you could get injured. So, pay attention if you notice any pain, as running through an injury could make it worse. Symptoms that point to something serious include swelling, a burning feeling, or an inability to put weight on your foot or ankle.
The most common foot injuries are plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and tendonitis, Dr. Hamilton says. They can happen quickly, but the recovery process isn’t as brief, so responding to symptoms is the best way to avoid a long break in your training.
What are those symptoms? Heel pain is a symptom of plantar fasciitis, while shooting pain and swelling are typical for stress fractures. Persistent tenderness is associated with tendonitis, especially if it lasts for weeks. But any kind of pain could mean you need a break, even if it’s a short one.
“Even small injuries such as a bruised toenail or blister can cause a lot of discomfort for a runner,” Dr. Hamilton says.
Visit a podiatrist
Although rest, ice, compression, and elevation — commonly called RICE — can help with everyday soreness, lingering pain is a sign that you need to see a doctor, along with “any acute injuries or sudden deformities” Dr. Hamilton says.
“If there’s a sudden snap or pop, or inability to bear weight on the foot or ankle, the patient should be evaluated as soon as possible,” she says.
During her time with patients, Dr. Hamilton offers expert care while helping them to listen to their bodies.
“I encourage my patients to work at their own pace in recovering from injuries,” she says.