The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

NY Podiatrist Tips: How to Prevent “Marathon Feet”

Posted by on Friday, October 10th, 2014

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Dr. Josef Geldwert is no stranger to marathons. Not only is he a marathon runner himself, he also serves as the Medical Director for the Hamptons Marathon and participates on the Medical Advisory Committee for the United States Olympic Marathon Trials. Formerly, he has worked as the NY Marathon’s Chief of Podiatry for the New York Road Runners Club. His practice, The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine, routinely sees runners for a common inflammatory condition dubbed “Marathon Feet.”

Dr. Geldwert at Hamptons Marathon
Here is Dr. Geldwert at this year’s Hamptons Marathon.

What Is “Marathon Feet?”

Here’s the scenario: you finished running a marathon — in great time, no less! Your manic elation is rudely interrupted in the middle of the night by immense foot pain — so bad, in fact, that it hurts for the comforter to rest upon them! Walking is definitely out of the question. We call this inflammation of soft tissue “Marathon Feet,” and see it most often in runners who train on soft surfaces (like an indoor running track or the reservoir track in NYC) and runners who wear thin racing flats for races.

How to Rehab Your Feet after Marathon Running

To treat “Marathon Feet,” we recommend three 15-minute ice baths a day and popping non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pills for a couple days.

During the first 24 hours, you should also:

– Do a little walking right after the race to “cool down.” Aim to walk at least one mile.

– Perform some gentle stretches.

– Drink cool Gatorade or Powerade as soon as possible.

– Avoid alcohol and caffeine, warm baths, hot tubs, and prolonged sitting/travel.

– Eat a meal of carbohydrates within two hours.

– Stretch your feet out in a cool pool if you can and gently massage the feet when you get out.

– Get horizontal and prop those feet up on a pillow for a few hours during the day to keep swelling down.

If you feel tender down to the bone, then you may have stress fractures in your feet and should see a doctor at once for diagnosis and treatment. Most sports medicine experts recommend taking it easy after running a marathon — taking off one day for every mile ran (so 26 days total). While that may sound brutal, it’s good advice. If you are not injured and don’t feel very sore, you may use this time to cross-train with other activities like walking, swimming, elliptical training, weight lifting, yoga, dance, or cardio. Up your protein and sleep a bit more than usual. If you are feeling any pain or tension past a few days, then just use this period for stretching, massage, walking in a cool pool, and light strolling.

Tips to Prevent Marathon Feet:

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

– You want to train on the same surface you’ll be running on. Avoid training on a treadmill or soft jogging track, as this will not prepare your body for pavement pounding.

Use well-cushioned shoes. Racing flats and old shoes cause many a problem for runners. Be sure you’re replacing your runners every 500 miles.

– Begin NSAIDs as soon as you can urinate normally to head off any pain.

– Remember that 15-minute ice bath as soon as you get home. There is no better prevention technique!

Contact the sports medicine doctors at The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine in New York City for advanced foot pain care. We offer full physical therapy and preventative maintenance programs for runners, as well as innovative ultrasound therapies, platelet rich plasma injections for tendon and heel pain, and surgery for the worst cases of foot-injury.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.