5 steps to better foot health for athletes
Whether you’re a trail runner or a triathlete, you know just how important it is to keep your feet in great shape. If you can’t stay on your feet, you can’t stay active and ultimately your workout suffers as a result. So what’s the solution? Well, we’ve answered 5 essential questions to help keep your feet happy and healthy, and you’ll be able to run further, workout longer and push yourself harder (and feel great doing it)!
- How do I choose the right workout shoes?
Before you click “add to cart” on that new pair of sneakers, make sure they feature adequate support, stability and cushioning for your feet and activity. It might take a little trial and error at first, but finding the right shoes is absolutely vital.
One of the worst things you can do for your feet is wearing the wrong shoes.¹ If they’re too tight, too loose, too narrow or too high, they can bend your feet and toes into uncomfortable positions causing irritation, pain and pressure. If possible, try multiple types and sizes, and if something feels even remotely uncomfortable, ditch it! Listen to your body and when you’ve found the perfect pair, get some extra protection with a blister prevention spray to lessen the rubbing and prevent future blisters.
- Which socks should I wear to work out?
You might think that throwing on any old socks (or no socks at all) to workout is fine if you have the right shoes. Wrong! Wearing shoes without socks allows fungus and bacteria to lounge on your feet.² Gross, we know. Socks help keep our feet clean and dry, plus they provide a barrier between our feet and the inside of our shoes. Skipping the socks or choosing flimsy ones means losing the protection from dirt, grime and moisture.
For extra reassurance, spritz an odor elimination spray on your feet, shoes, socks, yoga mats and workout gear first. It kills 99.8% of the bacteria and fungus that cause odors and infection. Bonus: your feet will smell super fresh even after the sweatiest workout session.
- How can I avoid foot injuries?
Staying active is great, but pushing yourself too far, ramping up workouts too fast or working out too often is bad for your body as a whole, particularly your feet. Our feet already bear all the weight of our body, so adding additional weight or pressure puts them under even more stress. It’s vicious cycle: if you ignore your body’s natural limits, you’ll be forced to stay off your feet and then, when you get back to working out, you might be inclined to push yourself harder to make up for lost time.
Remember, bruised bones, muscle strains and stress fractures³ are no joke and could seriously compromise your ability to stay active short- and long-term. For minor aches and pains, let a pain relief cream soothe them away, but for anything you think might be more serious, consult a doctor just to be safe.
Also, this one might surprise you, but you can actually work out your feet to make them stronger and more flexible. Yoga can be incredibly beneficial for the entire body and particularly in strengthening the muscles and tendons in your feet.⁴ You can also treat your feet to their very own yoga session courtesy of our Spaced Out toe stretchers.
Used by Yoga practitioners around the world, toe stretchers relieve pain and tightness by gently stretching foot and toe muscles in the opposite direction of the compressing forces from cramped shoes. They feel pretty incredible, too! Wearing them for a few minutes each day helps to relax, strengthen and rebalance foot muscles toward a more natural, comfortable and healthy state. And stronger feet mean better workouts.
- What should I do if I experience foot pain?
If you do push yourself too hard, make sure that you pay attention to how your body feels. Most people have experienced some level of foot soreness before or after exercising. This occurs when the ligaments, muscles or tendons are overstretched, causing pain and inflammation.
Foot pain is also incredibly common. In fact, according to the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS), a massive 80% of women have foot problems.⁵ That said, just because it’s common doesn’t mean it can be ignored.
Be proactive and prevent pain by stretching and warming up slowly, including some stretches, strengthening and balancing exercises. If you’re already experiencing pain, rest, ice, compression, relaxation and pain relief are your best friends. Foot pain can also be a signal that there’s something larger going on, which is why it’s important to always get things checked out!
- How can I keep my feet clean when I work out?
Sweaty feet equal dirty, stinky feet (and we can all agree that nobody wants that)! The sweat glands on our feet are the most active on our body⁶ and a pair of feet can have about 250,000 glands for making sweat. Long story short: when you sweat, the billions of bacteria on your feet feed on it causing funky smells.⁷
Working out provides bacteria with the PERFECT environment to thrive (lots of moisture, warmth, oxygen and nutrients). On top of that, damp, warm shoes and sweaty workouts⁸ help these bacteria and fungi thrive and multiply. That’s why it’s so important to wash and dry your feet thoroughly every day. We also recommend a quick swipe with some cleansing towelettes and a spritz of odor elimination spray pre- and post-workout to keep those feet squeaky clean.
In addition, while we’re all avoiding public spaces as much as possible right now, it’s not just our masks that we’ll need to add to our gym bags once things open up again—bring a pair of flip flops, too. Public showers, pools and locker rooms are one of the primary places where athlete’s foot⁹ is contracted. This fungal infection can be incredibly hard to get rid of, so it’s better to avoid getting it in the first place by making sure your feet don’t touch any shared surfaces.
Do you have any specific exercise-related foot issues? We’d love to hear about them (and help you to get them solved), simply email email@example.com for product recommendations and more.