Relief for Exercising Feet
Don't let foot problems sideline your fitness goals.
You've finally started that exercise program, and you're beginning to feel
the excitement of a healthy new lifestyle.
But just as you're getting into the workout "zone," you're sidelined
with achy feet -- corns, calluses, blisters, maybe even an injury that not only
compromises your fitness goals but can make even waiting for the bus feel like
you're standing on a bed of nails.
"The small foot problems that probably don't make much of difference at
other times can suddenly become a very big deal when you begin putting
significant stress on your feet, as you do when you're starting an exercise
program," says podiatrist Dominic Catanese, DPM, director of the Podiatry
Service at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
And if you suffer from diabetes, experts say, even seemingly insignificant
foot woes can turn into major medical problems if you're not careful.
"When blood sugar isn't under good control you can develop neuropathy --
a lack of feeling in the feet that can prevent you from recognizing both the
early warning signs of trouble, as well as when the problems themselves
occur," says Morris Morin, DPM, chairman of the Department of Podiatry at
Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.
This, combined with compromised circulation in the lower extremities, can
also make it harder for even a simple foot injury to heal. "It can end up
sidelining you for weeks or even months," says Morin.
The good news is that over time, feet can get used to new stresses, allowing
skin to grow thicker and tougher so fewer problems occur.
In the meantime, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of common
workout-related foot problems and keep your feet feeling healthy and happy.
To help you put your best foot forward, WebMD asked three top foot
specialists for advice. Here are five things they said you should know.
1. Don't Skimp on Footwear
It's hard to walk through you favorite discount emporium and not stop at
those tables of sneakers piled high, selling for such a low price. But buy
them, say experts, and your feet will pay.
"There definitely is a difference in sneakers, and if you are serious
enough about your health to start an exercise program, you have to be serious
enough to invest in good footwear, and doing so will help you avoid many
injuries," says Ken Plancher, MD, director of Plancher Orthopedics and
Sports Medicine in New York and Greenwich, Conn.
Here's what Plancher says you should look for:
- Check for solid construction with a flexible toe bed (your shoe bends when
your foot bends), a strong heel counter (the area that hugs the back of your
foot), and most important, padded insoles and arch support.
- Look for a "cross trainer" shoe, which works for all-around
- Shop in an athletic footwear store, where a clerk should not only measure
your feet, but also ask about any biomechanical problems such as flat feet, or
weak or pronating ankles, before suggesting styles.