Ask Stew: How can I reduce pain in my feet when running or rucks?

Foot pain is a common condition in the military due to stiff boots and dress shoes, many hours of walking and standing each day, long-distance running and rucking, and other weight-bearing activities .

Here’s a question from a newly minted Army soldier transitioning into Army life as a former athlete who was a civilian less than a year ago.

Mr. Smith, I recently joined the army and just graduated from army infantry school. Between the blisters and pain in my heel and arch, I have trouble wearing boots and even running in running shoes. Is it just my feet that need to recover from training or is this more of a serious issue that I should get checked out by the medical staff? Thank you sir.

First of all, thank you for serving and congratulations on graduating from the Army Infantry School. Becoming an 11B is not an easy journey, which especially takes a toll on your feet and back.

There’s a reason why “care of the feet” is one of the most important mantras for the MOS infantryman. Feet are your wheels in the infantry and properly fitting boots, socks and running shoes are just as important as a well-seen weapon.

There are many things that can go wrong with your feet, so don’t just consider help from an elderly person enlisted in hands-on foot care, but also professional help from physical therapy or a medical consultation. The reason I recommended getting practical, professional help is because there are 26 bones, over 30 joints and ligaments, and over 100 tendons in each foot. The list of things that can go wrong with your feet is huge and includes broken bones, tendinitis, bursitis (joint inflammation), plantar fasciitis, ingrown toenails and blisters.

You can also try these handy tips to help you with the basics of foot care. If that doesn’t help, it’s time to see a doctor and other medical professionals for more serious treatment.

Walk barefoot or wear sandals

When you don’t need to wear shoes or boots, walk barefoot to allow the foot to move naturally and dry out. Moisture from sweat or walking in water during the day can cause your feet to be soft and susceptible to blisters so severe that they prevent you from walking for a few days.

You should dry your feet, keep wounds clean, and move around unhindered by constricting shoes or boots every day, and several times a day if possible. The end-of-day ritual should consist of taking off your boots and drying off, stretching and massaging your feet.

Massage, stretch and flex

Your feet have twenty muscles in each foot. Stretching to improve flexibility and build strength should be part of your daily warm-up and cool-down, especially after long days of walking, running, or rucking. Massaging the bottom of the feet with a tennis ball or lacrosse ball is helpful for sore arches, heels, and soles. Use your toes as fingers to strengthen your feet. Take clothes, walk in sand or on soft padding to help stretch and flex the foot during movement.

Well-fitting shoes or boots and socks

Like your shoes and boots, you don’t want your socks to be so loose that they cause more blisters, or too tight due to the potential for pain, loss of circulation, and increasing your risk of frostbite. in cold weather. Take an extra pair of socks with you to change into at midday if it gets wet, but also consider wearing an inner pair of thin, cotton-free, moisture-wicking (cotton-free) and flexible socks.

Army dress socks made of a rayon or polyester blend make a good layer against the heavier wool sock. With well-worn boots and a double layer of socks, I personally never had a blister during BUD/S training even when my feet were wet all day.

Clean your wounds

Clean your feet with soapy water, dry them completely, rub alcohol on open sores, and use athlete’s foot spray as a preventative. Don’t put your shoes back on until you absolutely have to. Treat blisters the same way. However, if you have known hot spots on your feet, consider using products like 2nd Skin Blister Pads or even duct tape in a pinch if you need to put on boots and shoes soon.

If you still have sore feet a few days after adding these daily habits to your foot care, go see a professional because your situation could be more serious with hundreds of potential problems.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author Certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit her Fitness e-book store if you are looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to [email protected]

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