Take care of your feet

In exercise circles, overuse injuries of the feet are common. What is also common is not waiting long enough for an injured foot to heal and returning to exercise too soon.

Be aware of the possibility of foot trauma before it starts. If you take up jogging and have high arches or really flat feet, or an extra few pounds to lose, sooner or later you will find sore feet.

Be realistic about the amount of time you spend on your feet! If one hour of walking keeps your feet happy, and your health healthy, then stick with it. Don't continually increase the time length. Don't add miles to a jog if your feet are working fine at your present distance.

I've talked about shoes before. They are most important; the right kind for the right sport. However, what is right for you may be all wrong for someone else. I have students in class with foot problems who swear by running shoes for aerobic use. I can't see it, but whatever works for your feet is right!

Which brings me to my next point. Don't be afraid to experiment. At the first twinge of pain to those feet, try a different tack. Run less distance, hop less often, do low impact, lose weight, get your doctor to check those arches. I have students who run with one foot bare, on a mat, and wear a shoe on the other foot. I have students who run barefoot with both feet and they run on three mats. I have students who refuse to put their heels on the floor and run on their toes. Hey, if it works, do it. Try something different. And if you haven't already seen a doctor regarding your foot problem, now is the time.

Finally, if you have a foot injury, wait for a l-o-n-g while before you return to your normal exercise. Injuries to the feet don't go away quickly. Waiting out the healing time for a foot problem is tough, as any active person will tell you. Six weeks without exercise, putting the feet up every time you sit, can seem like six years. But it is a good start for healing.

This time of year causes a lot of tired feet. Give a thought to your feet. Give them a little more cushion, support and consideration, and maybe they'll last through the holidays.

Jerry Vance is certified by the American Council on Exercise and teaches fitness at the Carson City Community Center and for the American Lung Association.

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