Foot Care for Athletes
The average person walks 80,000 miles in their lifetime! As an athlete, you put even more pressure on your feet during your favorite activities. Make sure you’re taking care of them so they can continue to do their job.
5 Essential Foot Care Tips for Athletes
These 5 foot care tips will help you keep your feet in tip-top shape.
#1. Wear the Right Shoes
Shoes that are unsupportive or ill-fitting put a lot of extra strain on your feet. Not sure if your shoes fit the way they’re supposed to? Keep these tips in mind next time you’re trying on a new pair.
- Have your feet measured at the end of the day (they swell during the day and that’s when they’re the largest)
- If you have one foot that is larger than the other (most people do) fit shoes to that foot
- Make sure there is ⅜-½ of an inch between the end of your longest toe and the shoe when you stand up
- Make sure your heel doesn’t slip when you walk
You should also look for shoes that are made of soft, flexible material and have thick soles.
Avoid wearing flip-flops or sandals, too. You have to clench your toes to keep them on, which puts extra pressure on your feet and can increase your risk of injuries.
#2. Get a Massage
Foot massages are great for improving circulation to promote healing. Use lotion or even vaseline and rub your feet with long, deep strokes from the heel to the ball of the foot.
You can also roll your feet along a golf ball or tennis ball if your hands get sore. Try putting the ball in the freezer before you use it for some extra relief after a long day.
#3. Soak and Scrub Your Feet Regularly
Soaking your feet in Epsom salt can help you avoid bacterial and fungal conditions like Athlete’s Foot and can relieve pain from ingrown toenails. Epsom salt also relieves muscle soreness and promotes healing by improving blood flow.
Simply fill a bucket or tub with warm water and ½ cup of salt. You can also add two cups to a regular bathtub. Then, soak the feet for 30-60 minutes. You can also add essential oils for relaxing aromatherapy benefits.
After your soak, you may want to reinvigorate your feet with a foot scrubber. This can add an extra circulation boost and also get rid of any dead, flaky skin on your heels or toes.
#4. Put Your Feet Up
Elevation is essential for relieve soreness and swelling after a long day on your feet.
When you elevate your feet so they’re above your heart, blood that’s pooled there can drain back toward your heart. This allows new, nutrient-rich blood to be pumped to your feet and legs instead to speed up healing and get rid of lactic acid build up.
Prop your feet up on a couple of pillows while you watch TV at the end of the day. Or, you can lie on the floor with your legs up against the wall for extra relief. This popular yoga pose will speed up the healing process even more and is a great restorative pose to practice before heading to bed.
#5. Stretch Your Feet Regularly
Make sure you’re stretching your feet regularly, especially if you’re prone to plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the connective tissue in the feet).
Some good stretches to practice before and after workouts include:
- Towel stretch: Loop a towel around the balls of your feet and pull the ends to dorsiflex your feet and stretch the fascia.
- Toe spread: Practice spreading your toes as far apart as you can. Focus on creating as much space between the toes as possible to counteract the time they spend compressed inside your shoes.
- Kneeling toe stretch: Kneel on the ground with your toes tucked under. Sit up on your heels to stretch the fascia. If this is too intense, lean forward a little and put some weight in your hands.
The Bottom Line
It’s easy to neglect your feet, but they work hard for you and deserve some regular care. Practice these five tips regularly to keep your feet healthy and pain-free.