It is almost spring; a time for renewed plans to be more healthy, get outside, and follow through with your new year resolution to be more active.
Start new workouts gradually. Increase your stamina and the length of your workouts gradually to avoid overuse injuries such as stress fractures or tendonitis. Stretching your muscles before and after workouts also helps prevent these types of injuries. You will be more successful reaching your goals by starting out slowly opposed to jumping into to a new exercise regimen.
Wear the right shoe and sock. Wear proper-fitting athletic shoes designed for the exercise or sport you are involved in as shoes have unique properties for specific activities. It is recommended to purchase shoes later in the day to allow proper fit after your feet have had a chance to swell which is normal throughout the day and with exercise. Shoes should also fit “out of the box”; the days of breaking in shoes has long past. Shoes that don’t support the arch of the foot or provide cushion for the heel can contribute to heel pain / plantar fasciitis. Shoes that are too narrow or flexible may lead to a neuroma or a thickening of the nerve tissue in the foot causing discomfort or the feeling of a wadded up sock under the toes. Socks are an important factor in foot health acting typically as the unsung hero of footwear. They provide an interface between your skin and footwear to reduce friction and pressure as well as aid with moisture management in the shoes. A moisture wicking sock such as wool or wool blended material helps to prevent irritation of the skin from excessive moisture and maintains optimal temperature. These socks come in varying thickness from ultra-thin to heavy duty and can be used all year long.
Use good technique. Improper exercise techniques can result in injury to the tendons or ligaments in your feet and ankles. Incorrect posture or misuse of exercise equipment can cause decreased stabilization in the skeletal system, leading to joint sprains and muscle strains. Start with proper technique then increase the intensity as your body allows.
Protect yourself from bacteria. Sweaty shoes, public showers, exercise equipment and pool decks at the gym are breeding grounds for fungus, viruses and bacteria. Try to minimize being barefoot while in public areas; water shoes (flip flops/shower shoes) provide a barrier between your feet and the wet surfaces. Treat cuts and cracks in the skin as these disruptions in the skin’s surface can act as entry points for bacteria.
Above all, it’s important to listen to your body. If you experience any pain or suffer an injury; see a professional who can help you get back to doing the things you love to do.