Exercise often puts an immense amount of pressure on your feet. Jumping, running, and even prolonged walking can be hard on your feet, especially if you are just starting a new exercise program. Aching feelings, blisters, corns, and calluses are all common side effects of workouts. Problems with arch pain and plantar fasciitis also frequently occur.
Even small problems can turn into painful and debilitating annoyances if they are not addressed properly. Thankfully, over time your feet will get used to your new routine, but that can take weeks or even months. You should take care to ensure that you are avoiding extra stress on your feet in the meantime. Use the following tips to help you put less stress on your feet and get the most out of your new workout routine.
- Warm up and cool down appropriately.
It takes your body time to get “revved up” to start any moderate to intense physical activity. The same can be said about your feet. A few minutes of slow to moderate movement before you start your workout can go a long way to warm up your feet. Stretching is also a good idea both before and after a workout. Try pressing your toes against a wall with your heel on the ground to stretch out the tendons in the feet. Pointing and flexing your feet back and forth can also be a good way to get the feet warmed up and ready to move. Rotate your toes in a circle to get the ankle involved too.
- Build up a tolerance.
It takes time for your feet to get used to a new activity, so don’t rush it. Doing too much too fast can lead to stress fractures and other negative side effects. Stress fractures occur when the muscles become tired and cannot absorb the shock associated with many physical activities, particularly running and jumping. The muscle then transfers the shock overload to the bone, which causes tiny cracks known as stress fractures. Gradual buildup of activity can prevent serious injuries. It can be exciting to start a new workout routine, but starting up too fast can put you out of commission for weeks.
- Switch up activities with “feet friendly” workouts.
If you love to run, play tennis, or play basketball adding in an exercise that has less impact on your feet can ensure that your feet remain in good shape for your next workout. Repetitive impacts can be detrimental to your feet over time, so switch up your activities with other exercises like biking, elliptical machines, stepping machines, or swimming. Low impact weight training can also be a good compromise.
- Get shoes that work well for you.
Everyone’s feet are slightly different, which means that shoes that work for you may not work for your friend. Finding the right footwear for your unique foot size and shape can significantly decrease your chances of having a foot injury. Certain types of activities require different kinds of shoes as well. Cross-trainer shoes may be a good option if you want a shoe that will work well for a variety of sports. Various types of shoes have different shapes and levels of shock absorption. For example, aerobics can end up having up to six times the force of regular walking, so getting a thicker shoe may be a good idea for your aerobics class. Getting the right shoe for your needs is important. Getting the right fit is also imperative—find something that does not squish your toes and does not allow the foot to move much.
- Invest in the right kind of socks.
Your socks are almost as important as your shoes when it comes to decreasing stress on your foot. Your socks provide a vital cushion between the shoe and the foot, which reduces friction that can lead to irritation. Ideally, you should have a sock that has some extra cushioning in the sole, and moisture wicking fabrics work well to decrease problems like blisters, fungus, and foot odor.
Other Tips and Tricks to Reduce Stress for Your Feet
If you continue to have foot problems, you should see a podiatrist for help. You can also try some of the following tips if your feet are particularly sore or painful.
- Soak your feet in warm water with gentle soap.
- Use nonmedicated pads for corns and callouses to take pressure off the nearby area.
- Use pumice stones or foot files regularly to soften and smooth skin.
- Medicated foot sprays can be a good way to deal with foot fungus and bacteria growth.
- Moisturize your feet just before bed and allow them to air dry.
- Check your feet regularly for signs of trouble.
If you have thick, calloused skin, do not attempt to cut it off. You can significantly damage your feet. Seek professional help you need it.
Keep in mind that your feet are often a good measure for your whole body. If your feet are stressed, that also usually means that you are putting too much stress on your muscles, lungs, bones, and heart. Taking care of your whole body often means taking care of your feet first.