By Lori S. Weisenfeld, DPM, FACFAS
Dashing Whippets Team Wellness Partner Dr. Lori S. Weisenfeld, Sports Podiatrist, has some important words of wisdom for those who finished the phenomenal United NYC Half Marathon this weekend.
Congratulations on an amazing half marathon for the Dashing Whippets. As the afterglow of the race fades, the tingly feelings in your toes (and I don’t mean the endorphin-type of tingle) may stick with you. Some of you may be feeling the tensing of blisters or the pulsating of bruised toenails.
These are the most common, and preventable, conditions that I treat on the days after any distance race. Often, these annoyances can be prevented with the proper fitting of your running shoes. So here are some tips on how to fit your shoes and how to prevent these minor war wounds.
If the shoe fits…
First thing is to compare the size of your regular street shoes with those of your running shoes. I can’t believe how many of my patients purchase their running shoes in the same size as they do their work shoes. Running shoes are sized differently and should fit differently from street shoes. First assume that you will need to size up.
Then assume you will need to size up again. You should fit your running shoes with a thumb’s width between your longest toe (usually your first or second toe) and the end of the shoe while you are standing. If you were to wear your regular shoes like this, they would be too big and sloppy. Also, try sizing shoes at the end of the day or after a workout so you can account for normally occurring swelling of the feet.
“Sock it up!”…
Each runner has their preference when it comes to the thickness of their socks. But one thing is universal. Nobody likes sweaty, soaked feet. When your feet are wet, you are more likely to develop friction which can lead to blisters. The best choice is socks that contain a combination of natural and synthetic fibers. The natural fibers (cotton and wool) absorb the moisture and the synthetic fibers allow the moisture to evaporate.
Socks that draw the moisture away from your feet to facilitate evaporation are called wicking socks. These sometimes require special care when laundering, so read your labels.
Blisters between the toes or on the bottom of the pinky toe are often caused by rubbing or underlapping of toes that are squished together while running. One solution is to use socks with individual spaces for each toe (“toe socks” or Injinji brand). Another solution is using Vaseline or an anti-chafing stick on your toes.
We’ve all read that you are supposed to cut your toenails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails. Sometimes sharp corners are left at the sides of the nail which can cause blisters or cuts on adjacent toes.
Make sure that your nails don’t have sharp edges by using a file to smooth the tips of the corners. Also, your nails should be cut short right before a race or distance run. Ideally, no white should be showing at the far edge of the nail. This may help prevent bruising or blistering below your nail when your foot slides forward and hits the front or top of the shoe.
When in doubt…
Even these minor injuries, which are mostly considered a nuisance, can hamper your training. It’s important to seek professional advice if blisters or bruised nails get red, swollen or remain painful. Bruises below your nails that do not grow out need to be checked by your podiatrist to rule out more ominous conditions.
Again — Congratulations, all!!
Lori S. Weisenfeld, DPM is a 2017 Dashing Whippets Running Team Wellness Partner, and one of New York’s most highly-regarded sports podiatrists. Dr. Weisenfeld has an active practice treating runners, dancers, and other athletes. She has been a finish line medical volunteer with the New York City Marathon for the last twenty years. Dr. Weisenfeld’s practice can be reached at (212) 947-2320. Her office is located at 161 Madison Ave, #7NE (33rd Street), New York, N.Y. 10016.