Let’s face it; 89km is no walk in the park, not for those who have run Comrades before and not for those who are braving it for the first time! The race will take its toll on your entire body – especially your feet. Just imagine how many thousands of steps you will take on your way to Durban! Thousands of runners will leave Durban with some sort of foot niggle. Here are a few common foot problems you might experience. Natasha Galloway, podiatrist, has some great home remedies as well as long-term treatments to help you with a speedy recovery.
They come in all sizes and can be painful. Blisters are caused by excessive pressure and/or friction.
• If the blister is painless, try not to break it open. Rather leave it alone.
• If the blister is painful, drain it and immediately dress it with an antibiotic ointment. Remember, a blister can easily become infected, so it is often better not to pop it.
• If the blister is over a pressure area, apply a doughnut-shaped pad over the area to protect it when wearing shoes.
Almost every runner gets black toenails at some stage. Black nails are mainly caused while running downhill when the toe repeatedly hits the front of the shoe.
• If the toenail hurts too much, especially the day after, see your podiatrist.
• If the toenail is not painful, do not force it off! It will fall off on its own as the new nail grows out.
Tip: Remember to always keep your toenails short.
The Achilles tendon is the tendon that attaches the calf to the heel. A painful Achilles tendon could be caused by biomechanical abnormalities, incorrect shoes or a sudden increase in training.
• Ice the area.
• Anti-inflammatory gels and ointments may help to decrease the inflammation locally.
• A heel raise will help to keep the tendon from overstretching.
• A physiotherapist will help with the use of ultrasound treatment and a good stretching programme.
The muscle that forms the arch of the foot is your plantar fascia. Inflammation of this area will cause pain in the arch. Biomechanical abnormalities, incorrect shoes or overuse of this muscle due to over-pronation are the main causes.
• Ice the area by rolling your foot over an iced water bottle. This will help decrease inflammation.
• Anti-inflammatory gels and ointments can be used locally.
• Calf muscle and Achilles tendon stretching can be done.
• Have your running shoes assessed.
• Arrange for a biomechanical assessment to be done if no improvement is seen.
Callouses on the feet are mainly found in areas where the shoe creates the greatest pressure. They are a good indicator of where you are putting pressure on your feet, and also reveal a lot about your biomechanics. A podiatrist can reduce these more efficiently but here are some acute treatments to try at home:
• Use a pumice stone on callous to reduce the thickness.
• Use a good foot cream to soften the callouses.
Burning feet are a common complaint and can either be local and minor or more serious. There are many causes for burning feet and therefore it is better to get your feet assessed professionally. Below are some home remedies to try.
• Soak feet in ice-cold water to relieve the burning sensation.
• Apply topical anti-inflammatory creams and gels over the burning area.
• Try and wear soft and well-cushioned shoes.
• Soft orthotics or innersoles can help in the long term.
Visit the South African Podiatry Association’s website for further information: www.podiatrist.co.za.
Modern Athlete Expert – NATASHA GALLOWAY
Podiatrist in private practice at Dunvegan Medical Centre in Edenvale, Johannesburg.