Winter Foot Health

“Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think of what it might be. In running, the mind flees with the body, the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms.” –Joyce Carol Oates

Test this out, on any given day, in any season, and count how many people you see jogging or running in your neighborhood. Running is, perhaps, the most popular physical activity worldwide with almost 60 million participating in the U.S. alone, according to Statista.com. People run for different reasons, top of which are keeping healthy, staying in shape, relieving stress and for fun.

With the cold winter months approaching, are there particular things people need to consider when running in colder weather? We asked Dr. Cary Gannon, a board-certified podiatric surgeon, to give us her expert advice.

Tell us about your background. How long have you been practicing?
I have been practicing for 13 years and have spent my entire post-graduate career in Franklin. I ran track and cross country at Auburn University, where I developed an interest in the lower extremity.  

What are main things you treat people for?

We see a great deal of plantar fasciitis and heel pain, ingrown toenails, bunions, hammertoes and stress fractures. We do a lot of diabetic foot care, wound care and elder care for things like severe fungal toenails. 

What are your top tips to keep feet healthy in general and for running in winter?
Shoes that fit properly are critical. Too often, I see people wearing shoes that are far too small. The foot requires ample room to expand during a run. 
Proper attire is also a must. We recommend dry natural fiber socks, headgear and layered clothing. Compression gear, such as compression socks, sleeves or pants are also important for recirculating blood and for aiding recovery.  

Do you see any differences with conditions of runners coming to see you in winter as opposed to summer?
I always see more injuries in summer as opposed to winter. People who run during the winter are typically seasoned runners who have been training for quite some time. Novice runners generally commit when the weather is nice. Oftentimes, these newly focused athletes develop plantar fasciitis, stress fractures and other injuries simply because their bodies are not accustomed to training.

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