Welcome to Day 8 of our Devoted New Year series! Today we are talking all about your feet! These posts are brought to you by Meridith creator of Devoted Training; a 52 week faith-based training journal, and myself. We hope you enjoy!

Your feet have 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and tendons and they serve as the first point of contact in a run. Whether it’s a blister or a structural infraction, we all know that a pain in the foot can turn into a death march on a run. There are some basic actions that runners can take to protect their feet and make them stronger for the best year of running yet.

We’ll cover two topics on feet: strengthening feet and protecting feet from blisters and lost toenails.

Strengthening Feet

Feet are the foundation for everything, and often, runners are not aware that a weakness in the feet could be causing other issues in the lower leg down the chain. According to Hit Reset: Revolutionary Yoga for Athletes, the big toe is meant to provide 80-85% of the primary support to the foot. When we wear shoes all day long, the toes are confined closely together and the muscles that stabilize the arches can become lazy and not provide the stability that is required for running.  

Runners should have some control over their toes, meaning they can wiggle their toes and move the big toe independent of the other four toes. With just a little practice, this can be an easy routine to do while cooking dinner, brushing your teeth, or playing princess/superhero with your toddler. J Toe yoga is another good way to strengthen your feet. Lift up your big toe with your finger and then try to press down while adding resistance with your finger.

Walking around barefooted is an excellent way to strengthen the feet. Take it a step further and do your strength work without shoes or socks. Another effective way to spread the toes is to use toe spreaders while lounging around the house (not during running).

Protecting Your Feet

One of the most basic and most critical objectives of foot care is to reduce friction.  Heat, friction, and moisture all contribute to blisters, so reducing any of these factors helps keep feet healthy to the finish. A good resource for all things feet is Fixing Your Feet by John Vonhof. It’s probably overkill for road running, but it’s a great resource for trail running.

A few tips for keeping feet blister free and toenails intact include:

  1. Keep feet smooth by filing calluses. This may seem counterintuitive, but callouses create a point of friction and can create blisters. (Nothing is worse than a blister under a callous!)
  2. File toenails so that they are smooth with the toe. You can even file the tops of toenails to make the transition from toenail to toe smooth.
  3. Make sure there are no bumps or creases in your socks or shoes that could create friction. This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s really easy to brush off a discomfort only to have it later become a detriment.
  4. Lace your shoelaces with a loop at the top so that your ankles don’t slide on the downhills. Downhill running is notorious for banging up toenails.
  5. Apply a layer of lubricant to the feet to reduce the chance of blisters to trouble spots. Something with zinc oxide like desitin or butt paste works great.

At the end of the day, blisters heal and toenails grow back. (It’s actually really cool when toenails bite the dust. Most of the time, a baby toenail grows under the old one, so you aren’t ever left totally vulnerable. An amazing design for such a small detail!) And thankfully, strengthening your feet doesn’t take a lot of extra effort. Have fun finding ways to spread your toes and keep your feet baby soft!

Do you walk around barefooted or are you a shoes and socks kind of person? 

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