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9 tips to prevent and treat foot pain after exercise

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Feet often take the strain when you work out. It's not surprising as they often bear the weight of your whole body when you exercise. Aches and pains in the feet are common and frustrating, but there are ways to prevent and treat them.

We've got advice from the experts - Matthew Fitzpatrick, a consultant podiatrist from The College of Podiatry, who is the podiatry lead for the London Marathon, and Dr Seth O'Neill, physiotherapy lecturer at the University of Leicester and a spokesperson for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

1. Blister

What is it? A blister is a small bubble on the skin filled with fluid. The fluid is usually serum but it can be blood or pus if it becomes inflamed or infected.

How to prevent it: Make sure your trainers fit well and don't rub, and that your socks are comfortable and don't have any seams or stitching which can cause rubbing.

"If your feet get sweaty and damp, this can increase the risk of blisters as it can make the skin slightly waterlogged," says Matthew. "A sports sock is designed to wick away sweat, can help keep feet dry and reduce rubbing." Using medicated foot powder will help keep your feet dry as moisture in trainers can make blisters more likely. Start wearing new trainers gradually.

How to treat: Most blisters heal themselves within a week.

"If you do get blisters, don’t be tempted to pop them as this can risk infection. Keep them clean and wear a plaster to protect that area of the foot until it heals," suggests Matthew.

2. Black toe

What is it? Black toe is caused by bleeding under your toenail - otherwise known as subungual haematoma. It's usually the big toe that's affected. Black toe is often caused by your toenails banging against the front of your trainers or walking boots.

How to prevent it: Make sure your trainers aren't too small or too tightly fitted, especially around the toe area. Trainers shouldn't be too big either as they may cause your feet to slip forward and toes to bang on the end of the shoe. Lace trainers up properly to make sure your heel stays where it should and your toes have enough room. Get fitting advice from a specialist shop. "Long distance runners require their running shoes to be slightly bigger than usual to accommodate for the natural swelling that occurs when running long distances," says Matthew.

How to treat it: If there's no pain black toe can be left alone. The black bit generally grows out within 6 months. If it's painful, swollen or the nailbed is raised seek medical advice. They may need to relieve the pressure of the blood under the nail or remove the nail.

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