Relief for Exercising Feet
Don't let foot problems sideline your fitness goals.
3. Become One with Your Inner Sole
If your shoe doesn't have a built-in arch support, Plancher recommends
investing in a shoe insert that supports the foot from heel to toe.
"You're not looking for cushioning as much as for the arch to be
supported," he says. "You should feel the insert pushing gently against
your arch, so that your body weight is supported symmetrically across the
This one step places the foot in the correct biomechanical position, which
automatically reduces the risk of blisters, corns, and calluses by at least
50%, he says.
Experts say good arch support also helps prevent another common workout
problem: plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the band of tissue that supports
the foot arch.
"Good shock absorption may help some, but it's really all about the
mechanics of the way the foot functions," Morin says. "If the arch
caves in and collapses down, you're going to have a problem."
Signs of plantar fasciitis include pain in the arch or heel that is
strongest when you walk after resting.
4. Curb Your Enthusiasm
While being excited about your new workout program is a good thing, doing
too much too soon is the quickest way to put your feet out of commission.
"One of the most common -- and the biggest -- mistakes folks make when
they start to exercise is working themselves too hard," says Morin.
"They try to walk three miles when they haven't done that since high
This not only helps lead to blisters, corns, and ingrown toenails, it can
also cause more serious problems, including plantar fasciitis, stress
fractures, and tendonitis.
"Your feet are like the barometer for your whole body," says
Catanese. "If they begin to act up, it's a sign you're putting too much
stress on your heart, your lungs, your muscles, your bones, as well as your
The key to avoiding most problems, he says, is a gradual progression of
activity that allows feet to get used to all the new action.
5. More Tootsie Care: Do's and Don'ts
Even if you follow all the advice, experts say you may end up with at least
a few days of foot discomfort. To keep small problems from turning into big
ones, our experts offer WebMD these self-care Do's and Don'ts:
- Do self-treat corns and calloused skin with non-medicated donut pads
designed to take pressure off the affected area.
- Don't use salicylic acid preparations or any compound designed to "eat
away" dead skin. "The compound doesn't know good skin from calloused
skin. You could really harm your feet," says Catanese.
- Do soak feet often in warm water with a mild soap.
- Do use foot files and pumice stones regularly to smooth and soften
- Don't use razor-like or other cutting devices in an attempt to cut away
dead skin or remove a corn or callous. If it's that thick, says Morin, you need
- Do use medicated foot sprays, designed to kill athlete's foot fungus, after
showering in a gym or other public facility.
- Do check your feet every day, including the bottoms. Look for signs of
redness, swelling, irritation, cuts, blisters, or corns. If you have diabetes,
don't try to self-treat these problems -- see a doctor right away.
- Do moisturize feet, but only at night before going to bed. Doing it during
the daytime can make shoes slip and cause more friction and irritation.
- Don't try to lance a blister. Instead, let it go down or drain on its own
and keep the area bandaged and clean until it heals.