As a runner, your feet are your foundation. They’re there with you through every step quite literally taking you where you want to go. I’m Jesse Funk and on today’s episode of Runner’s High, we’re going to talk about a few common issues runner’s feet run into and what to do about them.
There’s three really common things that happened with runner’s feet, and I’m going to talk about them each in turn. Those three things are athlete’s foot, blisters and chafe skin, and the dreaded plantar fasciitis. Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus known as tinea pedis, and its name actually changes just depending on where it is on your body.
It’s the same fungus that causes jock itch and ringworm. Again, it just depends on what part of your body, what kind of skin it’s on how it’s referred to, but it’s all the same strain of fungus. It is highly transferable from skin to skin. So, it’s important to eliminate contact if you already have it on your feet from getting it somewhere else, transferring it via your hands to other parts of your body.
Athlete’s foot doesn’t stop you running so much as it is just a huge source of irritation as your skin can become really red, inflamed, cracked, dry, all those kind of things is something that we at Solpri, me specifically as the owner Solpri deal with a lot of the time. And that’s why I kind of went into scholarly research mode and ended up coming up with what is our number one selling product, our bar soap and then consequently the body wash version.
It’s an everyday cleanser that contains essential oils shown to be effective against the kind of fungus that causes athlete’s foot. So, something you can use all the time to kind of ward it off. And then some people have had success, eliminating it using our products as well. If you want to check those out, go to Solpri.com/shop, you can get those anytime.
The second most common thing that happens to runner’s feet are blisters and chase skin and these kind of go hand in hand when we have a lot of excess friction and excess moisture. Using the chafe bomb is something that is a staple in this category to eliminate this.
But there is actually a more foundational thing you can do that is going to help you eliminate this issue namely, proper fitting shoes and moisture-wicking shoes. If you haven’t yet, hit that subscribe button, stay tuned to the channel because I share a lot of my experience as a runner here on this channel with you.
Now, if you’ve subscribed to the channel, and you’ve been with me you know that in another video I share my experience of fitting shoes for people that are both runners and/or had medical conditions as a full-time employee for almost three years.
So, I know a lot about fitting a proper shoe to a foot and when you get the right size shape, both of those are important, then you eliminate a lot of rubbing and friction issues that happen in an improperly sized or shaped shoe.
This is where your local running store comes into play. And you really can’t eliminate the expertise of somebody that actually has hands-on shoes day out, it can help you figure out this set of shoes to choose from to get that proper fit.
Moisture-wicking socks on the other hand, or something you can pick up from almost anywhere an online retailer or your local running store. If you’re already headed there for those shoes, feel free to patronize them, I’m sure they will appreciate it.
Now, moisture-wicking socks are made out of materials that are designed to pull moisture away from your skin. It can be a synthetic material or on the higher end, it can be made as something called merino wool. Now, moisture-wicking socks are going to be a little more expensive than a 12 pack of cotton socks you can pick up from Target, but they are worth the investment in your feet’s health.
Now, here’s an operation you too if you are terrible to buy gifts for like me, mostly because I don’t do much besides run, or my sports and I kind of have what I need, it’s an opportunity to give the people around you something that can get you as a gift.
And now, as an adult, you can be excited about getting socks for Christmas or for your birthday because they cost a little bit more and you may not necessarily spend that on yourself, but that’s okay. It’s always good to have gifts and let other people get things for you on occasion.
Our last foot problem is probably the most insidious and most painful of the three and that’s plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is this condition where the fascia which is the sheath surrounding the muscles on the bottom of your foot is either inflamed, torn or pulling away from the muscles causing pain.
And this if you’ve had it can be insidious in the sense that it is very, very hard to get rid of once you get into the cycle of having it and continue to run on it. Rest, of course, can help you get rid of most ailments over time. But if you want to continue to run, it can be difficult to deal with. One of the best solutions I’ve already talked about and that’s proper running shoes.
If you’re going into the shop anyway, get proper fitting running shoes. Your body takes a pounding and your feet are the first point of contact to take that pounding. So, if you’re using worn out shoes, even if you’re in the right shoe, if they’re worn out and you’ve had them for too long, then you’re going to get more impact in your feet, which can potentially result in that plantar fasciitis. So, having good fitting shoes that are in good condition are the first line of defense against dealing with plantar fasciitis.
Now, there are a lot of different devices and advice and solutions to deal with plantar fasciitis and it seems like none of them has 100% success rate, besides maybe rest. And even then I don’t know if we have 100% success rate since we walk around and that can continue to cause issues for people. So, keep in mind that the next few suggestions I’m going to make come with some personal success via me and some anecdotal success via the people that I interacted with as that employee in that shoe store.
So, these are things you can try, but they’re always is a little bit of controversy. We’re in the science of making these things be 100% effective. The first which is a love of running stores is an arch support. But the reason it’s a love is because the margin is really high on arch supports.
But it is a kind of hearsay situation where some professionals will suggest an arch support is absolutely necessary because on the bottom of your foot, pretend this is my foot, it’s going to support that and not allow the fascia to be kind of pulled apart over and over and over. It supports it and gives it relief from the constant pounding and an opportunity to heal.
The opposite train of thought is that you need to develop strength in those muscles and the fascia so that it doesn’t happen again. So, I’ve used in our support, I liked it for a while I was on my feet all the time in that store on a hard floor.
I don’t use them when I run, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t be successful for you. They are one avenue to try but again, keep in mind that some of these things work for some people and they don’t work for other people. And the science is kind of out in terms of what professionals believe is the best solution here.
I will say, please don’t spend hundreds and hundreds or thousands of dollars on custom orthotics unless you get to the point that a doctor suggests those. And really there is a particular place which I won’t name just because I don’t want a libel suit that charges near thousand dollars for their over the counter orthotics, please don’t go there. There are better solutions for way, way less money. Typical arch support is going to run $30 to $60 from most reputable manufacturers.
This next suggestion for dealing with plantar fasciitis has a little bit of mixed history as well. If you’ve listened to my interview with Christie Aschwanden on the Smart Athlete Podcast, then you already know a little bit about what I’m going to say. If you haven’t, subscribe to the channel, stay tuned for great interviews like that, where I talked to both intelligent and competitive athletes and authors like Christie on the Smart Athlete Podcast.
But that suggestion is going to be ice massage. And the idea behind this is that between massage, we’re going to be massaging the fascia trying to loosen up the muscles and relax that area on your foot as well as ice it to reduce the inflammation in the fascia and the surrounding tissue, the muscle, all that that’s going on there.
The controversy here and this is what Christie talks about in her book is that ice may not actually be great for long term recovery. Because inflammation actually signals to our body, hey, these muscles need attention.
I’m not sure that there have been studies done on ice massage specific to plantar fasciitis, so I’d love to see a study on the efficacy of ice massage versus massage, versus no treatment or something like that on plantar fasciitis and see if there’s any kind of efficacy for this. I’ve personally had success with this, but again, I’m a case study of one and that’s really just anecdotal evidence but I really love it.
How you can do this, you can always just grab an ice cube out of the freezer. But what you can do is get a Dixie cup, which is those little cardboard cups you have in the bathroom to wash your mouth out with mouthwash, often given the little kids go one of those water, freeze it and then you tear away the top part and use that as a little cup to massage your foot with.
You can also use something that’s a more professional solution like cryo cups. I’ve got a couple in my freezer that I use at any given time. You’ll find them in training rooms often, but the bottom line is you can use really any piece of ice to do this.
My last suggestion is another thing that Christie may poo-poo on. So, Christie, I’m sorry for making this suggestion if I do, but it’s something that kind of comes along with the territory and that is good old fashioned stretching. The theory or the idea behind this is if your fascia is pulling away, it may be a result of your Achilles tendon being tight. So, imagine again that this is my foot, and then my leg goes up here. When your Achilles tendon is tight, it comes underneath your heel and then in that fascia is pulling away.
So, because we’re all connected, we’re this interconnected series of muscles and tissue, when one part is affected, it kind of affects the chain down the line. So, the idea is to stretch your calves after you run probably before and after, to try to loosen up that chain.
If you get your Achilles tendon looser, your calves looser and on up the chain, it could even start at your quads all the way down. That if you lose it all that up, it gives the opportunity for that fascia to come back and place to heal and not be pulled away causing that pain anymore.
So, those are my tips on caring for your feet as a runner. There are a lot of things that can go on with your feet and your skin as a runner. What have I not covered today that you’d love to know about? Leave them in the comments below, I love to do a video for you. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.