How to Keep Your Feet Feeling Great When You Exercise

6 min read

Exercising and being active are important parts of our lives.  Staying active helps us stay healthier, feel better, and live longer.  However, it can be hard to start or stick with an exercise routine if your feet hurt.  Use these tips to keep your feet feeling great when you exercise.

Runner ExercisePlenty of people start off a new exercise routine with lots of enthusiasm and gusto.  Then, a short time into their new routine, their feet begin to hurt.  They develop blisters or corns or get an injury that keeps them from being able to exercise without pain.

A minor issue with the feet may go unnoticed during your regular, every day activities.  But when you start exercising and increasing the amount of stress that is put on your feet, that minor issue is suddenly exacerbated.  It may become difficult to do much of anything, let alone exercise.

Foot problems that seem minor can be quite serious for those who have diabetes.  People who have diabetes that is not well-controlled can develop neuropathy, which means that there is a loss of sensation and feeling in the feet.

If you have neuropathy, you may not feel an injury, which allows the injury to progress before it is treated.  Diabetics also tend to have poor circulation in the feet, making it more difficult for injuries in the feet to heal.

There is good news, though.  As your body gets used to your new workout routine, your feet will get tougher.  The skin will get thicker, and you will adjust to the stress on your feet.  Your feet won’t hurt forever.  Keep these tips in mind when you are beginning an exercise routine.

Don’t Buy Cheap Shoes

The quality of the shoes that you wear when you exercise really does make a difference.  Don’t be tempted by inexpensive, low-quality sneakers.  In the long run, it will cost you more in terms of health care if you skimp on shoes.  When you are selecting shoes, look for these features:

  1. Shoes should be well constructed.  The place where your toes bend should be flexible.  The back part of the shoe that goes around your heel should be firm. The outsole should be suitable for the specific activity. Look for shoes that have padded insoles and plenty of arch support.
  2. Choose the right shoes for the right activity. Choose shoes that are designed for the activity you will be doing; for example, choose running shoes for running or hiking shoes for hiking.  If you do a variety of activities, choose a cross-trainer.
  3. Buy your shoes at a specialized shoe shop, not a department store.  The professionals at a specialized shoe shop will assess your feet and gait and help you find the right shoe for your feet & type of activity.

Be sure that your shoes fit properly, as well.  They should be both long enough and wide enough.  Have your feet measured to make sure that you are wearing the right size, but don’t get fixated on a size number. Sizes can vary from one brand to the next, so make sure that the shoes feel good on your feet.

When your shoes don’t fit properly, your toes may bump up against the front of the shoe.  When you start exercising and taking thousands of steps each day, that repetitive bumping of the toes against the shoe can result in damage to the toenails, hammer toes etc.

Wear the Right Socks

Wearing the right socks is nearly as important as wearing the right shoes.  Socks act as a buffer and cushion between your feet and your shoes.  If your socks don’t fit properly or are uncomfortable, they can create friction and irritate the feet.

The best socks offer some cushioning in the sole.  A microfiber fabric will help to wick moisture away from the feet.  Getting rid of sweaty feet feels good, and it also helps to reduce the odds of getting blisters or developing foot fungus.  The colour of your socks matters, too.

Choose white socks, with minimal seams – especially if you are diabetic.  The white fabric allows you to see any blood or other liquid on the sock, which gives you a heads up that there is a problem.  Your socks should fit comfortably and not be too thick or have a rough texture.

Support Your Arches

Arch SupportsAll types of feet need arch support, whether your feet are flat, high arched, or anywhere in between.  When you try on a pair of shoes, you should feel the arch gently pressing against the bottom of your feet.

Now, depending on the shape of your feet, you may never find that in a shoe.  You can customize your shoes to get the fit that you need by using arch supports or getting custom orthotic inserts to wear inside your shoes.

When the arch of the foot is properly supported, the weight of the body is properly supported and distributed across the entire foot.  Good arch support helps to correct the mechanics of the foot.  This will help to prevent blisters, corns, calluses, plantar fasciitis etc.

The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot.  Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of this band of tissue.  If you experience pain in the arch of the foot or the heel that is worst when you first walk after a period of rest, this can be a sign of plantar fasciitis.

Don’t Overdo It

It’s great to be excited about your exercise routine, but doing too much, too soon can hurt your feet.  Instead, start slowly and gradually increase your activity.  This gives your feet – and your whole body – a chance to get used to this new level of activity. If you overdo it right away, you can end up with minor problems (like blisters or ingrown toenails) or more serious problems (like tendonitis or stress fractures).

At-Home Care

If you do develop a minor foot problem, follow these steps for at-home care.

  1. Use pads to relieve pressure from corns and calluses.
  2. Avoid medicated products that contain salicylic acid to remove calluses.  These products can remove healthy skin in addition to calluses and end up damaging your feet.
  3. Wash the feet in soap and warm water daily. Your pharmacist/doctor may recommend soaking the feet in warm water and Epsom salts to soften the skin and provide pain relief.
  4. Use a pumice stone or foot file to gently remove corns and calluses.  Do not use razors or other sharp objects to remove corns or calluses.  If you have a severe corn or callus that cannot be removed with a pumice stone, see a chiropodist/podiatrist for treatment.
  5. If you shower in a locker room or other public place, wear flip flops or shower shoes.  Also, consider spraying your feet with an anti-fungal spray to prevent athlete’s foot.
  6. Apply lotion or petroleum jelly to the feet before going to bed at night.
  7. Note: If you have Diabetes, it is always best to talk to your doctor before trying any of the above suggestions & for best advice on at home footcare.

If you have started exercising and are experiencing discomfort with your feet, visit Foot Solutions.  In many cases, a new pair of shoes will make all the difference.  We can help you find the shoes that are perfect for your feet.  We can also set you up with a pair of arch supports, custom inserts & socks.

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