Avoiding foot injuries when running long distances

Whether you’re gearing up for a marathon or just want to run longer distances, there are some things you can do to avoid foot injuries.

Joy Rowland, DPM, a podiatrist with Cleveland Clinic said starting with the right running shoe is key.

“The shoe should be cushioned. It should have a heel flare to absorb shock in the heel area, and it should have some cushion by the metatarsal, or the front part of the foot,” Dr. Rowland said. “You want to make sure that the toe box area is big enough, so your foot has a little bit of room. You don’t want your toes hitting into the shoe.”

Dr. Rowland said finding a couple of good running shoes to rotate between is important.

Since all running shoes are different, changing which ones you wear periodically can break up the repetitive stress running puts on your feet.

Socks specifically made for running and a supportive insole can also help reduce your risk for foot injuries, like blisters.

Well before your run, Dr. Rowland said it’s crucial to build up your foot strength by doing daily exercises and stretches.

For example, you can flex your foot up to resistance and down to resistance – or try toe presses where you push your big toe to the ground while lifting your other toes up.

“Not only do foot strengthening and stability exercises help you as you prepare for your run, but they also help you while you’re running,” Dr. Rowland said. “The better prepared your feet are, the more you reduce your risk of injury and long-term problems, like stress fractures.”

If you get a blister or callus, you can try putting moleskin or a felt protectant over the area to provide more cushion.

Dr. Rowland urges runners to see a podiatrist if they experience swelling, bruising or a long-term issue that doesn’t go away with home remedies.