The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Thanksgiving Race Prep: 5 Ways Runners Are Taking Care of Their Feet

Posted by on Thursday, November 20th, 2014

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Running before indulging in Thanksgiving turkey and a heaping portion of stuffing is annual tradition for many Americans. Considering the average Thanksgiving feast packs on 3,000 calories, squeezing in a 5K is prudent. From the 28,000 runners participating in Sacramento’s “Run To Feed The Hungry” to the 40,000 Texans finishing the “Capital One Bank Dallas Turkey Trot,” it’s clear that we’re a country of people who like to run. Before you get out there in the coming week, be sure you’re taking these five steps to take care of your feet.

turkey trot
People often dress up for turkey trots to have a little extra fun. Image Source: Flickr CC User, pixonomy

Take It Slow

Most foot and ankle injuries we treat at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York City result from doing too much, too soon. This is especially true for “Weekend Warriors” who just come out to run a few big races each year. Common conditions include stress fractures, plantar fasciitis heel inflammation, metatarsalgia nerve pain in the ball of the foot, and Achilles tendinitis inflammation. Ideally, you’ll want to train for at least a couple of months prior to the race, so for Thanksgiving races, you should be in full training mode by the end of the summer. You should start with light, easy runs and interval training. Progress your way to hills.

How much should you do?

There’s no universal answer, but experts recommend:

– Do not try to overcompensate on the weekend. Run no more than half your weekly total at once. So if you run 20 miles a week. don’t run more than 10 on the weekend.

– Do not increase distance by more than 10% a week. So if you run 20 miles this week, aim for 22 next week–not more.

Work on Posture

When developing racing style, concentrate on improving your posture, starting with your toes. Here’s what you want:

– Toes: Initiate the gait cycle by pushing off with the toes.

– Heels: Land softly, rather than slamming down on your heels.

– Body line: Lean slightly forward, but stay relaxed.

– Arms: Let them swing lightly, rather than trying to use them for propulsion.

– Breath: Breathe with your diaphragm, filling your belly with air first and then the chest.

Avoid side to side movements that waste energy. Do not stoop, which stresses out the neck and shoulders. It doesn’t matter how fast or far you can go if your form is sloppy. Keep your early races short and sweet. Once your form is impeccable, you can start adding duration or intensity.

Purchase Good Shoes

Be sure your shoes are up to snuff for the big race. Industry surveys indicated that about 70 percent of runners choose their shoes based on color, rather than stability. A specialty running shoe store or sports medicine doctor can help you select the right type of footwear for your individual foot type. We offer gait analysis at our NYC sports medicine clinics, which will let you know whether you have a high arch or a flat foot, and if there is any pronation in your gait. From there, we can help you find the perfect shoe. The American Podiatric Medical Association recommends buying a new pair of shoes every 300 to 400 miles or about every three months.

Cross-Train

Many foot injuries occur when the calf muscles, hip flexors, or hamstrings are overly tight. Make sure to stretch these muscle groups before and after a workout. In addition to your usual cardio workouts, be sure to throw some strength-training in at least two days a week. Try low-impact exercises like swimming and cycling to meet your endurance needs, without destroying your body. Balancing on a Bosu Ball or doing heel raises will strengthen your ankles. Try picking up marbles and washcloths with your feet to strengthen those muscles as well.

Pamper

The nails are easily overlooked, but we get many runners coming in with smashed up, ingrown toenails. To avoid the painful feeling of nail digging into flesh, cut your nails regularly–straight across, smoothing out the top edge with a file. When you get out of the shower, file down foot calluses with a pumice stone to prevent ulceration or infection. Skip cotton socks in favor of moisture-wicking synthetic socks or double layered socks that help you avert blisters. Another product called “Run Goo” can prevent your foot from chafing in your shoes as you run.

 NY Runners: Contact Us for More Info

NYC sports medicine doctors and podiatrists can help you get ready for your Thanksgiving race by assessing your feet or gait or both for slight abnormalities that are likely to result in pain. We can advise you on shoe choice, products to help your foot woes, and provide immediate acute pain relief with the latest scientific equipment. Book your appointment online today.

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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.