Working out at the gym is an essential part of many people’s fitness routines, and there’s good reason: Not only can working out help keep you healthy in both body and mind, but a good gym provides all the tools and support you need to reach your weight and fitness goals.
While most of us tend to focus on the performance of our major muscles when working out, it’s important to think about our feet, too. At the gym, our feet take an extra pounding from cardio equipment and indoor tracks, and they can also be exposed to harmful, infection-causing bacteria. Add to that ill-fitting shoes and damp, sweaty socks and it becomes obvious that your feet could stand a little extra attention to stay healthy during gym workouts.
• Choose your footwear carefully. That doesn’t just mean your shoes – it includes your socks too. Choose athletic socks designed to wick away moisture while also providing enough traction inside your shoe to avoid slipping, which can cause blisters to form and even result in infection. Make sure your shoes fit properly, which means making sure they’re snug enough to provide support but still offer room at
the toes to allow air to circulate and avoid crowding. Too-tight shoes can cause nerve problems while shoes that lack arch support and padding can result in a painful condition called plantar fasciitis, both conditions that can require medical treatment to correct.
• Avoid overexertion. Start new workouts slowly and build endurance over time, and start each individual workout slowly before working into a more rapid pace, even when the exercises you’re doing are part of your normal routine. Before putting on your footwear, give yourself a quick foot massage and gently stretch your foot muscles to increase circulation, warm up muscle tissue and improve flexibility to prevent injury like sprains and strains.
• Use equipment properly. Don’t try any shortcuts or become lax when using equipment, and be sure to practice good posture. Make sure your feet are fully in contact with the machines to provide adequate stability for tendons and ligaments.
• Keep bacteria at bay. In addition to wearing clean, dry socks at every workout, it’s also important to protect your feet from fungus and bacteria that can make the warm, moist gym environment their home. Don’t go barefoot at the gym or poolside; instead, choose water shoes to provide a strong barrier between your feet and harmful pathogens. If you have a cut, scrape, crack or ingrown toenail, bandage the areas carefully to keep bacteria from entering.
• After the gym, clean feet thoroughly and apply moisturizer liberally to avoid cracked skin. Remember to exfoliate the bottoms and heels regularly to avoid calluses and corns from developing as a result of regular workouts, and look for any telltale signs of blisters that could indicate you need a new pair of shoes or better socks – or both.
*Follow these precautions this winter, and your feet will be in prime condition to help keep you fit and trim at the gym this winter. For more information, make your appointment with Dr. Anna Marie at Mission Inn’s Spa Marbella! Remember, healthy feet…active life!