It’s the time of year when people want to get on a healthier path, and often that involves making a New Year’s resolution to prioritize fitness. Now, working physical activity into your routine is important for so many reasons. But if you dive into a new routine too quickly, your feet could suffer, leaving you in pain or dealing with an injury. Want to get active and stay healthy in the New Year?  Here are your Long Island podiatrists top tips for protecting your feet when you start a new workout routine. 

The Safer Way to Keep a New Year Resolution for Fitness woman running up bleachers

If you haven’t been active in a while, it’s important to do a safety check before starting a new exercise program. First, evaluate your current level of physical fitness—this is an important step, because you don’t want to go from zero to sixty when you’re just getting back into exercises. Why is that the case? If you suddenly increase your level of physical activity, that could put too much stress and pressure on your ligaments and bones. In turn, you could face overuse injuries such as stress fractures, or develop the chronic heel pain of plantar fasciitis

Want to avoid these concerns? Ease into your New Year resolution fitness routine. Start by doing something simple, like taking a short, leisurely walk. Then, as your body adjusts to the new movements, you can gradually increase the intensity of your program. Each week, try walking a little farther. Or, keep the distance the same but try taking it at a light jog on your next outing. In this way, you give your body time to grow stronger and adjust to more challenging exercise, without overloading your feet and ankles all at once. 

Also, you need to be careful when selecting foot wear for your workouts. First, make sure that you choose supportive athletic shoes. If you’re planning to run, you may wish to invest in sport-specific shoe styles. And, if you wear Medical Grade Insoles (MGI) or custom orthotics in your everyday shoes, be sure to keep wearing them when you start exercising. Or, even if you don’t currently wear insoles, you may wish to consult with our Massapequa podiatrists to see if an MGI or orthotic could help keep you comfortable and injury free when you train. 

Don’t Train Everyday

Even once you’ve worked up to your fitness capabilities, try not to work out every day. Or at least avoid doing the same workout on back to back days. You see, when you exercise, your tendons and muscles sustain minor damage. Then, when your body repairs that damage, you gain strength in your muscles. But if you keep overloading the same body parts, day after day? Your body doesn’t get a chance to heal. And that’s when you may develop foot or ankle pain, along with a higher injury risk. So, to stay safe, build rest days into your routine. Or, at the very least, switch up your workouts and embrace cross training to avoid injury.

Focus on Technique with New Year Resolution Fitness 

Especially if you’re running or lifting weights, making sure your form is correct is an important way to prevent injury. Not sure the best way to do a hamstring curl? Ask a member of your gym staff to show you the best technique. Unsure of the best running technique for your foo type and gait style? Schedule an appointment in the office, and we can provide protective guidance for your new running routine. 

Steer Clear of Foot Infection

Another hazard to watch out for at the gym? Fungal infections, like athlete’s foot, that are commonly contracted in shared public spaces. To avoid problems, make sure to wear shoes or flip flops at all times, even in the locker room or showers.  In the shower, clean your feet thoroughly with soap and warm water, even in tough to reach areas like the space between your toes. After you’re done, dry feet thoroughly, then put on a clean pair of socks. 

Now, when you choose your socks, choose wisely. Instead of cotton socks, which get wet with sweat, creating a clammy environment in your shoe, look for athletic styles instead. These socks can suck moisture away from your feet, helping prevent fungal foot or nail infections after a workout.

New Year Resolution Fitness: Final Thoughts

At the gym or in other shared spaces, always wipe down equipment such as mats or floor space, particularly if your shoes will come off during a workout. You should also check your feet before training, looking for any cuts or blisters that could open up when you’re working out. Find a problem spot? Disinfect and dress it with a waterproof covering, in order to lower your risk of infection. 

Finally, it’s important that you listen to your body before, during and after a workout, in order to detect small problems that could become major injuries. 

What injuries should be on your radar when you’re diving into a new fitness routine for the New Year? Here are some of the most common concerns affecting people who are newer to exercise: 

1.    Plantar fasciitis, of inflammation of the plantar fascia that runs from your heel to your midfoot. connective tissue running along the bottom of your foot. A common ailment for people who increase their training intensity too quickly, early symptoms include intense heel pain that’s worst when you get out of bed or start moving after an extended period of inactivity.  

2.    Stress fractures, overuse injuries resulting from excess pressure on your bones that causes them to develop a small crack in your foot. While you may be able to walk or run with this injury, you’re likely to notice pain when you do so. Also, the injury site may be swollen and  painful to the touch, indicating it’s time for an in-office exam. 

Hoping to keep your New Year resolution for fitness without getting sidelined by pain? Start this year off right: click here to schedule your foot exam at our Nassau County podiatry practice. 

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