Two Rules of Running: Look after your Feet and Knees

Did you know that after the knee, the foot is the most highly injured part of a runner’s body?
Looking after your feet is the number one tip I’ve heard given by a number of ultra and multi-day event runners, yet there something that I haven’t thought about much in the past, except to count the number of black toenails when marathon training.
Taking part in this 21 day yoga challenge has had the unintended side effect of seeing my bare feet a lot more often that I used to. Whether it’s staring down at them in a folded position or trying to wrap one leg around the other in Eagle Pose, I am becoming more aware of the chipped nails, dry skin and callousy bits than ever before (overshare, sorry).
Aside from being embarrassed by the state of my feet in front of fellow yogis, I know that I do need to start paying more attention to my feet to get me through training for not one, but two marathons this year.

Wearing the right trainers is key. Make sure they are fitted properly and have enough room around the toes- many brands/shops suggest that you go up half a size to accommodate for movement in the shoe while you run. This should help eliminate black and lost toe nails! Replace trainers every 300-500 miles, although they lose some of their shock absorption after only 100 miles! If you can, buy a few pairs and wear them on rotation.

Look after your shoes – when you’ve been out for a wet run it’s tempting to put your shoes directly on a radiator to dry however over time this will cause your shoes to shrink. Don’t leave your shoes outside or somewhere cold either, the cold temps can make the midsoles less cushioned and harden over time. It’s best to remove insoles and keep your shoes somewhere warmish but without a direct heat source.
Be careful in your choice on non-running shoes, blisters and bruises from boots and heels are going to be painful in your trainers regardless of how comfortable and cushioning your trainers are!
As Steph discovered this weekend, socks are just as important as your shoe choice. Make sure they come up high enough on the ankle to protect from rubbing- I love Sweaty Betty’s Blister Resist Socks for long runs and race days.

Steph receiving ‘medical treatment’ for her bleeding ankle
Tend to blisters and fungal infections straight away- if in doubt see a chiropodist.
chipped toenails- in need of a pedicure!
I’m planning on booking more regular pedicures this year to keep my feet looking and feeling tip top. A pedicure doesn’t have to be top of the range, and most include a foot massage which gets the blood flowing and stimulates the muscles in your feet. They’ll also trim your nails to the correct length (too short or too long can be really painful), remove any dead skin or callouses (although I tend to err on the side of caution and get them to leave a lot of those protective bits near race day, gross I know) and moisturise your whole foot. Polish is an added bonus! 

As I’ve mentioned on here recently, I’ve been experiencing some knee and hip niggles. Nothing major but not something I’m going to ignore. During New York marathon training, I started having regular sports massages and it’s something I am continuing during my Paris and Berlin training. I find that it loosens tight muscles and draws attention to tightness and pains before they become problems. I can feel my left IT band is no longer an issue, and although my right one is still a pain the bum (literally), I know that it would be a lot worse without this attention. I’ve also become aware of my glutes, and how much work they need to help ease tension within my legs.

I’ve been going to Move Clinics (I highly recommend them), who have been pummeling my legs and glutes every few weeks, as well as seeing a massage therapist that comes in to our offices. It has also been suggested that I have a physio overview to see if they can get to the root of my hip and knee problems, looking at the way I squat and run. This all costs money but I feel like it’s an investment into my healthy, active future so it’s something that I’m willing to invest in! 

What is your experience with physios and sports massages? Do you include them as part of training or only when you need it? 
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8 Comments

  1. January 15, 2014 / 11:27 am

    Great post and lots of good foot care advice. I work where we sell running shoes as we always recommend a thumb distance between toes and end of shoe (as long as the heel isn’t slipping out).
    As for sports massages, I suffer from shin splints so regular deep tissue massages are wonderful when I can find the time, and money. It’s worth it if you are a regular runner (I’m a fitness instructor too) or sports player.

  2. January 15, 2014 / 2:34 pm

    Thanks so much for this. I get very painful arches when I run, despite having trainers that were fitted after a gait analysis. Thick I definitely need some custom insoles. I’ve learned that scrimping on your feet is a definite no-no! I also had no about the radiator tip, so thank you!

  3. January 15, 2014 / 8:37 pm

    I have a sports massage every four weeks for my back and shoulders as I have such poor posture at work! Although the more yoga I do, the better I feel and the better my back and shoulders are. I think mainly it’s down to stress too. After both half marathons and my triathlon I had sports massages to look after my legs, but I think as I build up my mileage I’m going to get a foam roller to help stretch out my legs a bit more.

  4. January 15, 2014 / 11:12 pm

    As someone with pretty terrible feet I can relate to this, inevitable I guess after playing Rugby until my mid 20’s and then doing must of my running off road now. But I have started moisturising them a few times a week to try to prevent cracking.
    I am considering taking them for a bit of an MOT, might have to give a good tip I guess 🙂

  5. January 16, 2014 / 9:16 am

    Great post! I definitely agree about massages etc being an investment. I’ve been getting knee pain during long runs, and went to see an osteopath who almost immediately realised that it was due to bad posture, misalignment and a stiff leg-the same long undiagnosed problems that had also caused a bunion (gross I know). I am now having regular sessions to sort out the problem, and after the first one ran a pain free 10 miles so am a big convert!

  6. January 16, 2014 / 5:51 pm

    My feet are absolutely awful, I dread getting them out at yoga as they are hideous-true runners feet. I need to take much better care of them. I’ve started getting sports massages every 6-8 weeks and it’s made a huge difference especially since I’ve started upping my mileage again.

  7. March 10, 2014 / 10:53 am

    It could be something going on with the nerve or even neuropathy. This can be treated with nerve medications given by your doctor. Stretch your feet and calves often to help them stay loose yet strong.
    http://www.footcentersofnc.com/

  8. jessscottyoungJess
    May 13, 2015 / 11:29 am

    Can you recommend a good physio or osteo to see in London?

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