Tips for Trail Runners

A man running on a hill

Trail running is a thrilling and challenging activity that requires strength, endurance and agility. As a trail runner, you know that your feet are your most important tool and taking care of them is crucial for your performance and enjoyment on the trails. Whether you’re a seasoned trail runner or just getting started, it pays to understand the importance of foot care. Read on for tips on foot care for runners so you can keep your feet healthy and happy on the trails.


Runner Foot Care Guide

Are you preparing for a trail run? Be sure to choose the right socks and shoes, care for your toenails, prevent blisters and avoid dryness to promote foot health. Learn more below!


Select the Right Socks and Shoes



Dressing your feet with the right socks and shoes for trail running is essential to prevent blisters, discomfort and injury. When it comes to socks, look for moisture-wicking materials to keep your feet dry and comfortable. Avoid cotton socks, as they tend to retain moisture and can rub into your skin. Instead, opt for synthetic or wool socks designed for trail running. These materials will help prevent blisters and keep your feet cool and dry.

As for shoes, consider the terrain you’ll be running on and the level of support you need. Trail running shoes come in many styles, from minimalist to highly cushioned. If you’re running on terrain with roots and rocks, you’ll want a shoe with a sturdy sole and good traction. Look for shoes with a rock plate or protective toe cap to prevent injuries from sharp objects. If you’re running on smoother ground, you may prefer a lighter, more flexible shoe.

It’s also important to consider the fit of your shoes. Ill-fitting shoes can contribute to runner’s toe, which occurs when repeated toe stress or trauma from wearing tight shoes, running downhill or on hard surfaces causes bleeding under the toenail. Make sure your trail running shoes fit snugly but not too tight, with enough room in the toe box to prevent runner’s toe and blisters.

Try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet are at their largest, and wear the socks you plan to run in. Finally, you’ll want to break them in before hitting the trails to be sure they’re comfortable and supportive.


Care for Your Toenails

As a trail runner, caring for your toenails is essential for protecting your toes when running. Long toenails can rub against the inside of your shoes and cause blisters, while short toenails can lead to ingrown toenails. Toenail injuries can also occur from repetitive impacts on the trails.

To prevent these issues, keep your toenails trimmed to a moderate length, straight across and not too close to the skin — cutting them too short can lead to ingrown toenails. If you do get a blister or injury under your toenail, seek medical attention to prevent infection.

Toenail fungus is also a common issue for runners, so keep your feet dry and clean, and don’t share socks or shoes with others. See a doctor for treatment if you notice any toenail discoloration or thickening. By taking care of your toenails, you can run comfortably and confidently on the trails.


Prevent Blisters

Blisters are common for trail runners due to friction between the skin and socks or shoes. However, you can prevent them with a few simple precautions.

Wearing the right socks and shoes for your feet and the terrain you’ll be running on is a crucial first step. Choose socks made of moisture-wicking materials that will keep your feet dry and prevent friction. Run in shoes that fit well and offer enough toe room so your toes don’t rub the inside as you run.

Using lubricants like petroleum jelly or specialized blister prevention products on areas prone to rubbing can help reduce friction and prevent blisters. If you do feel a hot spot or blister forming, stop and address it immediately by applying a blister pad or bandage.


Avoid Dryness

Foot dryness is another uncomfortable issue trail runners may deal with. Fortunately, you can help prevent it with the following tips:

  • Wear moisture-wicking socks and breathable shoes to prevent sweat buildup and keep your feet dry.
  • Moisturize your feet regularly with a high-quality foot cream or lotion, paying special attention to areas prone to dryness, like the heels and balls of the feet.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after your trail runs. Dehydration can lead to dry skin and many other issues.
  • Avoid exposing your feet to harsh elements such as extreme heat or cold, which can dry out the skin.


Practice After Run Care

Proper foot care after your trail run is essential for keeping your feet in great shape so you continue hitting the trails. Here are some ideas to incorporate into your post-run foot care routine:

  • After your run, take your shoes and socks off and inspect your feet for cuts or blisters.
  • Clean your feet with soap and warm water to wash away dirt and sweat.
  • If you have blisters, apply a blister pad or bandage to prevent further irritation.
  • Lie down and prop your feet up to reduce swelling and improve circulation.
  • Stretch your feet and calves to prevent muscle tightness and cramping.
  • Use a foam roller or massage ball to roll out any tension or knots in your feet and calves.
  • Moisturize your feet with a rich cream to prevent dryness and cracking.
  • Rest your feet and avoid putting too much pressure on them. Take a break from running if your feet are sore or injured.


Put Your Best Foot Forward With Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates



Healthy feet are crucial for trail runners to enjoy their runs and avoid injuries. With the tips discussed above, you can minimize the risk of blisters, toenail problems, dry skin and other foot issues that can sideline you from your favorite trails. Remember to choose the right shoes and socks, trim your nails regularly, moisturize your skin and listen to your body’s signals. With a bit of care and attention, you can keep your feet happy and strong for many miles to come.

If you need medical attention for foot pain, Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates can help. We’re a podiatry clinic with several locations in Washington. We offer multiple services to diagnose and treat foot and ankle conditions, including podiatry, surgery, orthotics and physical therapy. We also provide wellness programs to help you achieve optimal foot health and overall well-being. Contact Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates today to learn more!


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