Get into sport by starting off on the right foot

The Olympics will inspire many people to get their trainers on and get active.  Without doubt exercise offers many benefits but it’s crucial to make sure you are looking after your feet.  Olympians require ‘Fit Feet’, so as part of its annual Feet for Life Month in June, The College of Podiatry is raising awareness of the importance of good foot care when taking part in sports.During June, podiatrists are offering free foot health checks around the UK in local gyms, golf clubs, libraries and health clubs so you can make sure your feet are ready to ‘Step into Action’. Visit the College of Podiatry’s website to find a health check near you and for other foot health information. Feet for Life Month is the perfect opportunity to ensure you have ‘Fit Feet’.

When you run, your body weight is multiplied by up to seven times, with your feet bearing the brunt of this stress at every stride. The demands made on feet and lower limbs can lead to a range of injuries, including sprained ankles, torn ligaments, shin pain, knee pain, and joint and muscle problems.

The rest of your body will suffer too, if you do not have the right trainers.  Wearing good supportive footwear is vital to avoid long term problems and injury.  So whether walking, running or dancing, The College of Podiatry offers the following advice:

  • Choose the correct footwear for the sport – If running is your thing, buy a running shoe which has adequate cushioning in the midsole and a flared heel for stability. However, if it’s a racquet sport such as squash or tennis, buy shoes designed for racquet sports that give better stability when moving and stopping suddenly around the court – a running shoe wouldn’t be suitable for this due to lack of lateral support.
  • Follow the 1cm rule – when shopping for the perfect sportswear ensure you can wiggle your toes a little – leave 1cm of room from the top of your longest toe to the end of your shoe. Try on both shoes and walk around the shop to make sure they don’t pinch or rub. Trying shoes on in the afternoon helps as your feet can swell throughout the day.
  • Always wear socks – to reduce the risk of fungal infection and blisters. The best running socks are ones that are made from synthetic materials which are designed to keep sweat away from the skin, (such as CoolMaxÒ) as they don’t absorb moisture like 100% cotton socks, and keep the feet drier.
  • Warm up and stretch – before starting any form of exercise, stretch and warm up your entire body and then stretch and cool down at the end of every session.
  • Prepare your body – incorporate strength and flexibility exercises into your regime to ensure that your body is in the best possible condition for exercise and sport and think about your diet – a healthy body is linked to healthy eating
  • Seek expert advice if necessary – if you have ongoing foot pain that doesn’t go away, have it examined by a podiatrist.

Tips for buying the right sports shoe from The College of Podiatry

  • Buy trainers designed for the activity you want to do.  Running shoes are very flexible, allowing the foot to bend and flex through each step, they have increased shock absorption for when the heel strikes the ground and are designed for forward motion.  Sports such as tennis, basketball and aerobics involve sideways stepping, and require shoes that provide greater sideways support.
  • A common mistake is to buy trainers that are too small. Shoe manufacturers produce trainers designed for people with low arches and high arches.  It’s vital that this is recognised so that you can buy the right shoe for the type of foot you have.  Buy trainers from a specialist sports shop where the staff are trained in fitting.
  • The most important thing is that your sportswear is appropriate for your body and your workout.  Choose a reputable manufacturer.
  • If you’re training every day, ideally have two pairs of trainers and alternate them to allow them to dry out over 24 hours.

The College of Podiatry is the academic authority for podiatry in the UK, and an independent charity dedicated to feet health research, education and public awareness. It works closely with the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists – the professional body for the UK’s registered chiropodists and podiatrists. In short, they’re the UK’s experts for everything and anything to do with feet.  Podiatry is the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and other disorders of the feet and associated structures.