If you are a runner, you know how important your feet are. Even if your feet wouldn’t win a beauty contest, it’s important to keep them in as good a shape as possible. What’s more, improper alignment of your feet can impact your entire skeletal structure. So, how do you ensure your feet stay in good running shape? For starters, DON’T

Don’t Run in Worn-Out Shoes

That old pair of “comfy” running sneakers that you love will not give your feet adequate support. Moreover, if your feet are not properly supported, neither is your entire body. If your posture is not perfect, an old shoe ends up tilting the way that you walk. This causes your foot to hit the ground in a way that’s unnatural and damaging. The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) recommends that you replace your running shoes every 300-400 miles or so.

What to Do: Give your shoes a health examination. Place them on a table at eye level. If you see that the heels are noticeably worn down or deformed, it’s time to throw the shoes out.

Don’t Run a Race in a New Pair of Shoes

Many runners think: “The race is coming up, I’d better get a new pair of running shoes.” However, even if you believe that your new shoes are a great fit, they still need to be broken in gradually. Lacing up your new shoes for the first time in a competitive race or a long distance competition may result in blisters, shin splints, or worse.

What to Do: Once you find a brand and model that works well for you, purchase more than one pair, break them in gradually, and alternate their usage. This way, you’ll always have broken-in running shoes on race day. However, because your foot size changes over time, don’t go crazy and stock up on running shoes for many years ahead.

Don’t Commit to One Shoe Size

You may believe that once you have reached adulthood, your shoe type and size is fixed. However, as you get older, your feet change. Tendons and ligaments become laxer, arch height may decrease, and the shock absorbing padding on your soles thins and atrophies, especially if you are a woman. In addition, feet tend to gradually lengthen up to half a shoe size per decade.

What to Do: Recognize that the shoe that was a good fit three years ago may not be the best shoe for you today. Become aware of the variances in shoe sizes between different brands. Consider having your feet professionally measured every few years.

Don’t Run Without Socks

Socks are important because when your feet sweat they absorb moisture. Without socks, your sweaty feet have no protection from friction between your feet and your shoes – blisters or other problems are likely to result.

What to Do: Always wear socks. They don’t necessarily have to be thick. Socks made of thinner, breathable material are made especially for athletic activities.

Don’t Wear Running Shoes When You’re Not Running

Shoes made for running are specifically designed for forward motion, so don’t wear them for different activities that don’t involve constant forward motion. For instance, tennis and basketball involve lateral movements and have their own specialized shoes. You can injure yourself by wearing a shoe that’s not designed for that sport’s specific type of motion.

What to Do: Always wear appropriate footwear for the activity you’re engaging in.

Don’t Attempt Bathroom Surgery on Your Feet

It’s tempting if you have an ingrown toenail that’s bothering you when you run to try to cut it out yourself. Or, you may have a callus which you try to pry out. Not being trained in medical procedures, you will most likely use some kind of ineffective, non-sterile instrument. What follows may be a festering wound, an infection, or even pyogenic granuloma (a fleshy growth caused by a minor trauma).

What to Do: Don’t try to be a doctor.

What You SHOULD Do When You Have a Foot Problem

For any foot problem, it’s always best to seek a professional diagnosis and advice on treatment from a podiatrist. Here at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle, we are trained to assist you to get the most out of your running activities. Set up an appointment today and don’t get sidelined by foot problems.