How to Put Your Best Foot Forward for Marathons


Brad Copple, DPM
Think Whole Person Healthcare



At Omaha’s 43rd Marathon, Sunday, September 16, runners will participate at many different levels, anywhere from a mile to a marathon. There is a distance for everyone.

With any long-term run, make sure you have the right shoes. Keep your feet healthy and happy by running in proper footwear.

A shoe that is too tight, too loose or is uncomfortable in any way can bring on problems for your feet. A too short shoe can lead to black toenails. A shoe that is too loose does not hold the foot firmly and can allow for friction that can cause blisters and other painful foot ailments.

Caution: Break in those new shoes before the run.

Selecting the right pair of socks is equally essential to choosing the right shoe.

Socks that are made of cotton reduce sweating. Socks that breathe can reduce heat and keep your foot from sweating excessively. The key is to find a sock that is right for you. Remember to keep your feet clean and dry.

Now, the personal stuff…

Remember to keep your toenails trimmed properly. Don’t do it the day of the run. The buffer of time from trim to run assures that if you make a mistake while trimming, time will allow the sore or tender area to heal. If there is pain or soreness, don’t run.

After trimming moisturizing is a must.

Keep the skin on your feet as soft as possible. The skin on our feet is often thick and dry. Avoid heel fissures and dry, cracked skin that bleeds by adopting a daily moisturizing regimen. There are numerous creams, balms and anti-chaffing products on the market that will help you keep your feet moisturized while reducing the amount of friction you might experience while running.

Before any race, STRETCH!

Most runners employ a stretching program as part of their training routine, but for those who do not train on a regular basis, stretching should not be overlooked. Stretching before and after a run can minimize aches and pains. And where most runners focus on stretching their hamstrings, quads and calves, don’t forget the importance of basic foot stretches.

Here are three foot stretches you can do:

  1. Step Stretch
    Place your toes on a step with your heels off the edge. Slowly lower your heels down and hold for ten to fifteen seconds. Raise your heels to the starting position. Repeat this exercise five to ten times. Depending on what is most comfortable, stretch both feet or just one foot at a time.
  2. Toe Stretch
    Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet on the floor. Spread your toes apart. Hold the toes apart for five-seconds, then release. Repeat this exercise up to ten times.
  3. Foot Roll
    Find a golf ball, baseball or tennis ball and place it under your foot. Roll the ball back and forth from your toes to your heels. Repeat a few times with each foot.

The last thing to mention is that feet tend to overheat and swell after a long run. One way to reduce inflammation is to immerse your feet in a tub filled with ice water for about fifteen minutes (unless you have vascular issues) after the run. You can also, lie down and elevate your legs and apply an ice bag or cold compress to them. A bag of frozen vegetables is a convenient substitute for a cold compress. It’s also a good idea to massage your feet after a race and that tennis ball can do the trick.

For more information on foot health, contact Brad Copple, DPM at