Whether you are looking to get outside for a leisurely jog or you are training for a marathon, trail running can be an enjoyable activity for many people. Getting off of the pavement and onto a dirt path can provide a much-needed change of scenery. And, according to some studies, running on trails may even be better for your health than running on concrete.
However, the National Institute of Health warns that trail runners are at a higher risk than pavement runners for developing injuries and infections in their feet. This is because when on a trail, their feet are constantly exposed to dirt, rocks, moisture, friction, and terrain that can be dangerous to run on. To avoid serious problems, it is important for trail runners to take care of their feet by following a short list of widely accepted foot care recommendations.
1. Shoe Selection
Wearing the correct footwear truly does make a difference. Of course, choosing a running shoe is an individual decision. There are plenty of fantastic shoe brands and models on the market to pick from. The perfect trail running shoes should follow specific guidelines like being made of a breathable mesh material in order to reduce heat and moisture. It should be lightweight and made of water resistant fabrics. Many runners buy a shoe ½ a size too big for them in order to account for foot swelling during a long run. In addition, look for a shoe with a wide toe box. Your toes should not be too close together due to the possibility of blistering.
2. Wear The Right Socks
Speaking of blistering, sock selection is equally as important as the shoe you wear. All socks worn while trail running need to be the proper size and breathability. If you wear socks that are too tight, your toes will be crowded. Forced friction between your toes will lead to the creation of very uncomfortable blisters. Moisture-wicking socks are a must. That’s because of how damp the terrain can be on a trail run. You need to choose a sock made of natural fibers like wool or merino that will allow proper ventilation and temperature regulation.
3. Toenail Upkeep
Trim your toenails regularly in order to prevent discomfort while running. If your nails are too long, your toes will bang into the tip of your shoe every time you take a step, especially while running downhill. Unkempt nails may also dig into the skin on your other toes, causing even more pain. Keep your toenails clipped and filed to avoid unnecessary issues.
4. Blister Proofing
As mentioned above, runners should be working very hard to avoid blistering on their feet. Some people, unfortunately, have a tendency to develop them no matter which socks and shoes they wear. Using lubricant between your toes and on the heels and soles of your feet will help to reduce friction. If you tend to develop blisters on the balls of your feet, taping the area works well too.
5. After Run Care Is Important Too
Let your feet breathe when you’re not running! Try to walk barefoot or in sandals as much as possible. Also, ice is a great tool to take advantage of after a long run. It will reduce swelling in the feet and allow them to recover faster.
Try to stay on top of all medicines and treatments even when you don’t have an active issue as a preventative measure. Finally, massage your feet. It will reduce the chances of injury from tight tendons and muscles. Your feet will thank you!