How to look after your feet after running a race

Running takes it toll on the feet, be it the occasional blister or the loss of some toe nails, taking care of your trotters after a run is crucial and never more so than after a marathon. Runner's World spoke to Matthew Fitzpatrick, lead podiatrist for the London Marathon and Provost of the College of Podiatry about post-race foot care and he had the following footcare tips:

If you have a blister:

When deciding how to manage a blister, you should first consider its size. If the blister is small and not causing a problem while wearing trainers or shoes, you can cut a hole in a piece foam to form a doughnut over the blister. Tape the foam in place or cover with a soft gel-type dressing to protect it while it heals.

Should the blister be so large that you are unable to wear footwear, then carefully bursting but not removing the overlying skin will help. Ensure the area is then covered with a clean and dry dressing and monitor its progress. If it is open and there is raw skin underneath, then consider using an antimicrobial – especially if the blister is dirty or looking infected. Using a clean, dry dressing with a non-stick part is advisable.

Most foot blisters last between three and seven days and will normally clear up if further excessive friction is avoided.

If you have nail damage:

The first step to take is to determine the extent to which your nail has been affected. If the nail is very loose, you might consider removing it. It is advisable to see a podiatrist to assist with this.

If the nail is not significantly affected then the key, as with blisters, is to protect and reduce any further damage to the nail. Occasionally, the damage may mean there is a blood blister under the nail and this can lead to pressure building up which may cause more local damage. If the area is disproportionately painful, then you should seek further advice from a podiatrist.

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Soaking your feet:

Soaking your feet in a warm foot bath with soothing salts after a race sounds perfect – and, in principle, there is nothing wrong with doing this. However, before soaking your feet, ensure there are no open areas that may become infected or water logged. Taking time for your feet to relax, recover and rest is key to any post-race strategy.

Look for signs of:

Excessive swelling and bruising are two symptoms runners need to look out for as fractures can be present, even without any noticeable pain. In some cases, these fractures will be obvious because of the pain; however, when the adrenaline surges, we can sometimes push on and don’t focus on innocuous symptoms. If swelling occurs for a prolonged period or a new bruise develops over a few days, then it is recommended that you seek advice from a podiatrist or visit your GP. 

If your foot injuries do not resolve themselves naturally or through routine footcare within three weeks, then you should visit a podiatrist.

For more information on foot health or to find a podiatrist in your area please visit www.scpod.org.