Foot Health for Running
More than 50 million people in the United States run at least once a year and about 30 million run 50 or more days a year, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). Running is a great way to ensure aerobic activity, and the benefits for the cardio-respiratory system are well documented. But running puts heavy demands on your feet: In the Institute for Preventive Foot Health (IPFH)’s National Foot Health Assessment 2012, 59% of runners reported sore, achy feet or blisters associated with running, and 35% reported foot pain at a moderate or high level.
While running, we land on each foot with an impact force equal to three to four times our body weight, according to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM). For a 150 pound person, that translates to about 525 pounds of impact with each step. For someone running a 5K race, the cumulative impact would be roughly 3.5 million pounds, or about 1,750 tons. This is in contrast to walking, in which the impact force on the feet for each step is only about 1 to 1.5 times body weight (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2782094). For a 5K walk that translates into a cumulative impact of roughly 2.4 million pounds, or about 1,200 tons (still a hefty load, but not as much of a demand on the feet because that impact is spread out over more steps due to the shorter stride length of the walking gait).
Because running impacts the feet and, therefore, the entire musculoskeletal system, it is critical for runners to take care of their feet, including proper selection and fitting of footwear, proper foot hygiene, regular visual inspection of the feet and being aware of the effects on the feet of various running surfaces.