If you’re a runner, taking care of your feet is high on your priority list. Unfortunately, pounding the pavement can take a heavy toll on your heels, arches, and fascia. Proper foot care can help you avoid injuries like plantar fasciitis (also known as “jogger’s heel), heel spurs, and more–which could take you off track fast, and pave the way for additional injuries to the shins, hips, and back if left untreated.

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So, whether you’re getting ready to take on the Boston Marathon, or just enjoy jogging to the end of the block and back as a way to stay active, you should be following these 10 foot care tips!

Take care of your plantar fasciitis if you're a runner

1. Address foot pain immediately:

Runners are notorious for ignoring foot and heel pain until it becomes acute. Taking immediate action when you notice pain–or better yet, heading off the pain by following these foot care tips–can help you avoid or mitigate plantar fasciitis/runner’s heel and other injuries.

2. Allow your feet to rest between runs:

Running takes a toll on your body. Take rest days in between your runs, to give your feet time to heal and relax. If you feel any pain after a run, make sure you have completely addressed it before running again, to avoid compounding the injury.

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3. Keep feet moisturized but dry:

Apply moisturizer right after you shower to keep your feet from cracking during a run and to reduce the amount of friction from rubbing against your socks–which could lead to blisters. Avoid applying moisturizer right before a run, since keeping your feet dry will help you avoid fungal problems like athlete’s foot.

4. Cushion your feet:

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One of the best ways you can care for your feet if you’re a runner is by wearing cushioning heel seats or other orthotics. Orthopedic shoes that prevent and manage jogger’s heel are both heavy and expensive; however, with orthotics and heel seats that simply slip into your favorite pair of shoes, you’ll get lighter, cost-effective support and relief.

5. Elevate and cool:

If you notice that your feet swell after running, reduce the discomfort by immediately running cold water over your feet in the bathtub or simply from the garden hose. Icing is also an option, just be sure to leave the ice pack on for no more than 20 minutes.

6. Stretch your feet:

Many people make the mistake of stretching just their legs before a run. Taking time to stretch your calves, thighs, and feet will help strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce any pain you may be experiencing from plantar fasciitis or other conditions that can be made worse or caused by running. Learn how to do several easy stretches here.

7. Try taping:

To prevent or manage the pain of heel spurs or plantar fasciitis, try taping your feet. Taping also gives you additional support of the fascia and heel, preventing further injury

8. Avoid hard, uneven surfaces:

Whenever possible, go easy on your feet by running on soft, even surfaces. When you add distance to your runs, do so incrementally–increasing distance in leaps and bounds can put too much strain on your feet prematurely.

9. Keep the foot and mouth connection:

Keep in mind that what you eat can have a big impact on the health of your feet. Making sure you’re getting enough calcium can help prevent bone spurs, while avoiding inflammatory foods and adding more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet can reduce inflammation caused by running. Read more about what to add and avoid here!

10. Try night splints:

Using a night splint–a sock-like splint that stretches your foot/feet–while sleeping can help reduce inflammation and pain. Since your feet aren’t in motion during sleep, the muscles and tendons tighten up. By stretching them with a night splint, you can avoid or greatly reduce tightness and pain the following day.

Running is a great way to stay active and healthy. Just remember these 10 tips, and your feet will take you wherever you’d like to go!

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