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Feet are not meant to hurt

The new year is a great time to relook at your current activity level and resolve to do things different. You'll swipe that new gym membership card, put on your new moisture-wicking shirt and top-of-the-line compression bottoms...and then lace up your tennis shoes from five years ago. But over time your feet change and those old shoes may not fit your feet well or give you the support and stability you need to exercise safely. 

Your feet can take a beating, especially during a high-impact activity, which can create forces that are up to 20 times your body weight on your feet. No wonder foot injuries from fitness and sport activities are so common. Foot injuries can occur suddenly from trauma (jammed toe, ankle sprain) or develop over time from overuse (stress fractures, planter fasciitis, tendonitis) if you wear the wrong footwear or have an underlying biomechanical problem that adversely affects the way you move.

The small foot problems that probably don't make much difference at other times can suddenly become a big deal when you start putting significant stress on your feet, like when you start an exercise program. Being mindful about what you put on your feet can make a big different in successfully reaching your fitness goals for the new year. 

  1. Shoes. Find shoes that are made for your activity and foot biomechanics, such as over-pronation (your foot rolls inward too much), over-supination (rolls outward too much) or flat feet. Shop at a shoe store that will measure your feet and help you find the right shoes for you and your budget. Shop for shoes at the END of the day. Being on your feet all day is a good indication of what your feet and ankles may feel like after a challenging workout.
  2. Socks. Your socks play an important role in protecting your feet by provide cushioning between your skin and your shoe. If you socks are too thick, tight, or loose, they can cause friction and irritation. Look for socks that provide some cushioning in the sole and in a fabric designed to wick away moisture from the skin to help avoid blisters, foot odor and fungus of the skin and nails.
  3. Arch support. The arch absorbs the brunt of the pressure our bodies thrust upon our feet. The shape of your arch can change over time from pregnancy, weight gain, arthritis or age. Some people with especially low or high arches should consider orthotic inserts that support the foot from heel to toe.

Even with proper footwear, starting out your exercise routine too fast, too soon can cause problems for your musculoskeletal system—including your feet:

  • Start slow and gradually build up activity over time.
  • Alternate your workout routine—don't use the treadmill every day—try different activities like swimming or cycling.
  • Have foot pain addressed by a podiatrist—don't let it go unchecked, it could turn into a more serious issue.

Your feet are not meant to hurt and shouldn't be a barrier to a successful exercise routine. Be proud of yourself and your New Year's resolution for a healthier you. Keep moving!


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