As a Siren Luminary it’s important to remind ourselves to protect our skin when we are out training. Those long days under the hot sun can really damage our skin if we don’t take the proper precautions. After all the skin is the largest organ in the body and we must be vigilant about protecting it.
Another important part of our body can be easily overlooked when we are training every day. Our feet are what we place a lot of stress and weight on each and every day. We all have certain demands that require us to be on our feet, whether that be work, family, school, or training. If we take care of our feet they will take care of us as athletes.
Back in 2013 I completed multiple marathons, triathlons and Ironman races. I was at the peak of my training as a firefighter/paramedic and triathlete. I was on my feet all day at work and when I returned home, I would go for long runs and rides. I never once thought about my feet as being important to take care of as a part of my training routine. I was having arch pain, sore heels and excruciating pain in the mornings in both of my feet. I thought that I could run through it all and had always heard: “no pain, no gain.” I decided to visit the podiatrist, and that’s when you hear the dreaded words from the doctor: “You have plantar fasciitis.” This is a condition when the fibrous band in your foot that strings from your toes to your heel becomes chronically inflamed. I tried orthotics, pain creams, and even cortisone shots in my feet. Despite all the treatment my right foot was still not feeling any better. I was then told that I need to consider a new surgery called Topaz surgery. This is a surgery that they repetitively place needles deep into your foot into your plantar fascia to help it heal. I chose to do the surgery after months of treatment and being sidelined from all training and racing. I was in a cast for 6 weeks and a boot for another month to allow my foot to heal. My foot needed an additional 4 month of Asythm physical therapy. This was a method of scraping the foot to release scar tissue build up and allow my foot to function again without pain.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to protect our feet as athletes. I have learned through the years before, during and after surgery how to keep them healthy through daily life and training. Here are my tips:
1. Where protective shoes that have arch support. I use extra cushioned shoes for running from Hoka One One and then add an orthotic. This allows the foot to be support and not cause micro tears in the important fascia in your foot!
2. When at home it’s important to wear shoes or orthotic slippers around the house. You should never be bare footed.I use a brand called OOFOS, that helps protect my feet and they feel amazingly soft like clouds.
3. Use tools to self-massage your foot, like a golf ball. You can sit on the couch and apply pressure to the foot as you roll it across the arch and heel of your foot. This can break up scar tissue that can lead to pain in your foot.
4. If you do have pain, don’t forget the oldest rule in the book… R.I.C.E. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevate. You can place a water bottle in the freezer (drink a little before you place it in the freezer or it may burst) This makes the perfect ice pack to rest your foot on. You can wear a compression sleeve around the arch of your foot to add a little extra protection. The most important is to rest the foot if you have pain. Pain is a signal from our body that something is wrong! Give your foot some R.I.C.E, cross- train like cycling and then slowly come back to running.
There are many ways that you can protect your feet, and these are just of the few that I have learned over the years. We only get one pair of feet and we have to use them every single day in every single thing we do, so take care of them and they will take care of you!
by Beth Hinton, Siren Luminary
Follow Beth on Instagram @hintonfox