Foot Health for Fitness Enthusiasts: 5 Things You Need to Know

Foot Health for Fitness Enthusiasts: 5 Things You Need to Know

The condition of your feet can reflect your overall health, and if you damage your feet they can affect your quality of life, especially if you are a fitness enthusiast. This article discusses foot health and concerns that may affect any individual who follows an active or athletic lifestyle. 

Foot Fitness

Feet are biomechanical objects that undergo stress. They take the full impact of your weight, and that force is multiplied dozens of times during athletic pursuits. Athletes should be keenly aware of the following things when it comes to caring for their feet. 

1) Good Footwear Is Vital

Quality footwear protects your feet. Knowing how to choose the best footwear for exercising or athletics is vital to keeping your feet in good condition. Good footwear should conform to the following requirements. 

Construction – The shoe should have a durable sole on the lower half that can cushion impacts, and breathable material on the upper half. 

Fit – The heel should be cupped, the shoe needs to be wide enough for comfort, and there should be a comfortable width of space between the end of your big toe and the front. Take the thickness of wool socks, sweat socks, warm toe socks, and similar socks into account when fitting.

Ankle & Arch Support – Firm support is essential. These areas are especially important for athletes. 

Heel Counter – This is the area behind and around the heel. It should be sturdy and not bend under moderate pressure. 

Heel Height – Height should be low for most sports but some activities, like hiking or horseback riding, require a more substantial heel for safety and comfort. 

Flex Point – Normal foot flexing occurs at the ball of the foot. Look for weakness in areas that flex and fold. 
Weight – Hiking boots are naturally heavier than lightweight sports shoes, but sometimes footwear that feels too light may indicate inferior construction.

Stability – A stable shoe should not “roll” on your foot when you lean from side to side.

2 – Don’t Ignore All Pain

Ignoring some pain during competition is normal among athletes, but some conditions should not be ignored. The following conditions often cause pain and may stop you from competing or cause serious harm if not addressed.

  • Blisters, bunions, warts, corns, and calluses
  • Hammer toes
  • Heel spurs
  • Neuromas (enlarged nerves)
  • Metatarsalgia (inflammation in the ball of the foot)
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Stress fractures

Contact a healthcare professional if you feel pain in your feet or anything unusual, like tingling or numbness. 

3 – Foot Appearance Matters

Your feet should appear healthy. If you notice any of the following changes in appearance, bring it up with your trainer or healthcare professional as soon as you can. 

  • Visible veins or a color change – These changes may indicate a problem with circulation.
  • Swelling – This can be a sign of injury like a stress fracture. It may also indicate a problem with your heart, kidneys, or liver. 
  • Cracked, dry skin – This can cause constant discomfort and in some cases lead to infections.
  • Change in shape or loss of flexibility/movement – A variety of conditions can cause this. 

Some of these conditions may not cause pain but should not be ignored.

4 – Treat Fungus Quickly

Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a fungus that favors the environment of a warm, dark shoe. Several different fungi may cause this condition, which can result in itching, flaking, unpleasant odors, and oozing. 

Toenails can be attacked by fungus (onychomycosis). This condition is characterized by nail thickening, or splitting, and may cause the toenail to lift from the nail bed. The appearance of the nail can change, and you may detect foul odor and irritation. 

There are OTC products available for both of these fungal conditions. If OTC products don’t work, contact a healthcare professional. 

5 – Style

Many people view sports attire style as an important facet of their personality. While style can be important, don’t let this factor determine your final decision when it comes to footwear. Always select quality footwear over appearance, when possible. Like a healthy diet, good footwear may prevent many health problems from occurring.