What happens to our feet when we run?
Our feet hit the pavement at least 1000 times every kilometer we run, with a force of 2-4 times our bodyweight each foot strike. That’s why as runners, we should take good care of our feet to avoid any injury. Our feet are full of sensory nerve fibres, if we don’t take care of our feet, we won’t properly stimulate those nerves which will affect our body’s proprioception and cause the wrong muscles to fire up. When we push off the big toe, those nerves send the signal to the body to activate the glute muscles. If there are some issues with our feet nerves, those signals won’t be able to activate the proper muscles, therefore other muscles will take over and this will eventually result in injuries.
How to take care of your feet?
1. Strengthen your feet- Stronger feet will mean better propulsion, which helps to run faster and more efficiently. These 2 exercises will helps get the feet muscles much stronger. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps each foot of big toe raise. When standing, try to lift just the big toe. The next exercise will strengthen the arch, stand barefoot on the ground, push down through the heels and toes, pulling them together while lifting your arches. Again perform 3 sets of 10 reps on each foot.
2. Proper strike- Try to avoid heel striking as it increases the risk of injuries. Forefoot strike is a more natural strike which reduces the stress on the knee. Forefoot strike is a more natural, softer way of running because the calf helps to cushion the landing. If you can hear your foot striking the ground when you run that means you are landing too hard.
3. Pre-run warm-up– Before each run make sure you do a dynamic warm-up to bring blood flow to all the muscles, including the small ones in the feet. Perform some lunges, squats, high knees, butt kicks, leg swings which will prepare you for a more efficient run.
4. Massage your feet– Before going to bed, take a few minutes to massage your feet and release those small feet muscles. Using a golf ball while standing and roll it back and forth, when you feel a tight spot stop rolling for a few seconds and take deep breath. This will provide a good foot massage, releasing the plantar fascia. Using a frozen water bottle to massage the feet is also very efficient.
5. Find the right shoe- Running in a shoe that not only fits your foot, but also your running style will make a huge difference in your performance and injury prevention. We use to focus on stability shoes for overpronators, more cushioning for runners with high arches etc… Now new research shows that finding the right shoe is also about how the foot interacts with the shoe. The best shoe type is the one that feels the most comfortable, you should feel the support in the instep, on the top of the arch, and not feel the shoe from the ball of the foot to the toes. And always make sure you lace up your running shoes properly, through the top of the eyelets to support the ankle. Also make sure you replace your shoes every 600-700kms, that’s when the cushioning and support wears off.
Train Hard, Eat Right, Feel Great!