Foot Care, the right step forward, by Nathan Montague
Your feet are your most vital piece of equipment. They are put under an immense amount of stress through the constant pounding on the trails, tracks, roads, or mountains. There are literally hundreds of muscles, tendons and ligaments in your feet withstanding the force of the weight of your body, gravity and speed adding each step. Each muscle in the foot has an origin in the lower leg, ankle or foot. These will all be put under stress through ultra running. Here is my five point plan to holistic foot care:
1. Loosening the muscles and soft tissue around the feet, lower legs and ankles to increase range of movement and relieve tension and encourage healing of the feet. There are a range of exercises you can do and stretches. You can roll the sole of your feet on a golf ball too while seated or roll a frozen water bottle under your sole.
2. Blisters. Prevention is better than cure. An affliction so simple which can stop and end your ultra race. Sorry there is not one method but taping potential pinch points, coating the feet in petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or a specific cream or lubricant are all helpful, and good fitting socks and shoes help.
3. Blisters. Management. If you have to ask yourself to stop three times because of rubbing or a sore point then deal with it. Adjust or change socks. Remove debris. Adjust laces or tightness of shoes. Add a covering.
4. Sock-it one! Get a great pair of socks that suit your feet. Regardless of the heat of the race, the thickness of the sock is irrelevant as long as it is made of the right material that suits your feet. There are some great brands out there. Moisture wicking, breathable, and cushioned and comfy. Choose a pair and and test them in race conditions like wind, rain, heat, sand.
5. Wear YOUR shoes. I don’t mean buy a pair of shoes just because Killian Jornet wears them. Find a brand and then a pair that suits your feet and your gait and stock up! There is diversity within brands too. Size and shape matter from movement in the toe box to lifting at the heel. Some people recommend buying shoes slightly bigger for the heat to allow for swelling. However, if you have the right fitting shoe for your type then your normal size should suffice. And remember to break your shoes in!
These are just a few nuggets of information for foot care to consider. It is surprising how little attention we give these in our training regimen or preparation for races. Take care of them and they will take care of you.
Nathan Montague: Athlete and Consultant Coach