If you and your family are planning on celebrating the 4th of July at our local Americana Festival—and more than 85,000 people are expected to do so this year—we hope you’re able to stay safe and have a great time.
Of course, it can be rather difficult to have a great time if you are suffering from foot pain or experiencing discomfort in your lower limbs.
Since we want you to enjoy the festivities, our goal today is to share some tips and advice on how to make sure your feet are safe and comfortable at activities and events just like the Americana Festival.
Now, if you live in the Centerville community (or any of the surrounding areas), you are probably well-aware of the fact one of the big activities entailed with this celebration is the annual Up and Running Americana 5k Run/Walk. Accordingly, we are going to discuss running injury prevention you can use – no matter if your goal is “cross the finish line first” or simply “cross the finish line.”
First, though, we need to start with some more general advice (since the majority of festival attendees do not actually participate in the run/walk).
Keeping Feet Safe at Outdoor Festivals and Events
It is worth noting that the following tips aren’t sage advice only for the Americana Festival. You should use them no matter what kind of outdoor festival or fair you and your family or friends are planning on attending this summer. They include taking measures like:
Take a pass on flip-flops! Sure, these summer staples allow your feet to breathe, but save them for walking on the beach. Why? Two big reasons – 1) most flip-flops do not offer anything close to the amount of arch support and cushioning your feet need and 2) they only have a thin piece of material to keep them on your feet.
If you understand the importance of arch support and cushioning in footwear, the first point is fairly self-explanatory. If you aren’t sure what we mean, this is simply a matter of the fact that your feet endure tremendous force loads throughout the course of the day. As they do, those forces need to be properly distributed. Your foot arches play a key role in making sure that happens, and the arches require adequate support to ensure they can handle the job.
With regards to the second point, though, take a moment and think about what your toes do when you walk around in flip-flops. In all likelihood, they are curled to press down as you walk. The problem with this is the fact it overworks muscles and tendons in your toes and feet. Imbalance within these soft tissues is a major contributing factor for hammertoe conditions.
Choose breathable footwear. Fortunately, we live in a time when you can find shoes that are both stylish and functional. (Trust us, that wasn’t always the case!) You have plenty of options, but something to consider when you wear closed-toe shoes is that it’s best to make sure they are made from breathable materials.
Shoes that enable your feet to breath—and especially when paired with moisture-wicking socks—keep your lower appendages cool and lower your risk for fungal infections (athlete’s foot, toenail fungus).
Shoes should fit well. Choosing appropriate footwear is a great starting point in foot health, but you also need to wear shoes that fit well – at least, you should if you want to avoid problems like blisters, ingrown toenails, and calluses.
Both “too loose” and “too tight” can be bad in their own respective ways, so choose models that cradle your heel firmly (when laced) and still offer a little room for toes to wiggle. If you can’t wiggle your toes or find that your feet slide around inside your shoes, you simply need to pick a different size. (Don’t try to tough it out – no matter how cute those shoes are!)
Stay adequately hydrated. When you’re walking around in the heat at the Americana Festival, it can be rather easy to develop foot cramps—your lower limbs contain numerous muscles!—if you’re dehydrated. Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day, and especially if the temperatures start to creep up this year.
Another advantage to making sure you drink enough water—and particularly if you consume lots of salty snacks or food at the event—is that you lower your risk for edema. This condition is a matter of swelling that develops in the lower limbs.
Remember, your body is fighting a tough battle against gravity when it comes to moving fluids up from the lower limbs. Accordingly, fluids can pool in your feet and ankles when you’re on your feet all day. No need to help this situation by consuming a lot of salty snacks without drinking enough water!
Even if you’re not there to exercise, stretch beforehand. Everyone knows you should stretch and warm up prior to exercise and physical activity, but sometimes we forget how much stress is placed on the lower limbs even when we just walk or stand for extended periods of time.
Actually, the best practice is to stretch your legs and feet every day. In the event you’re more of a “casual-to-non” stretcher, start this 4th of July with some appropriate stretches before heading out to the festival.
Avoid the burn. If you do wear supportive sandals or other open-toed footwear, protect your feet with a liberal application of sunscreen (SPF-30 or higher). The sun is strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, so make sure you have sun protection during those hours. Of course, a pair of comfy, breathable close-toed shoes also protects your feet from harsh sunlight.
Running Injury Prevention
If you are planning in participating in the Up and Running Americana 5k Run/Walk—and particularly if you are going to be running—we hope you have already been preparing for the event. Whereas it isn’t as bad to run a 5k without training as it would be to attempt a marathon without training, it’s still not a good idea.
And if you have been training, hopefully you’ve been making gradual increases in duration and intensity over time, instead of trying to do “too much, too soon” (a common recipe for injury).
Provided you’ve planned ahead and have adopted a smart approach, you’re primed to have a great experience at the run. To further improve your chances of that, here are some tips you should take to lower your risk of sustaining certain foot and ankle running injuries:
- Warm up and stretch – Before the starting gun fires, you need to make sure your body is prepared for the run, even if you aren’t aiming for a first-place finish. Since the race starts at 7:30 AM, you should really target getting to the Centerville HS Stadium at around 6:30 AM. After checking in with the registration table, take a 5-10 warmup jog, then follow with dynamic stretches (as opposed to static stretches – which is where you perform a stretch and then hold it for 20-30 seconds). Ideally, you will finish your warmup and stretching shortly before the run starts.
- Lace ‘em up tight – Of course, prior to your warmup, you must make sure your shoes are laced tight and will be secure as you run. You should probably “double knot” your laces so they will stay tied the whole time. (In the event you look down and see an untied shoe, head to the side and stop to re-tie it.)
- Hydrate – The air will probably be relatively cool if you do show up at 6:30, but that can change quickly as the sun gets higher in the sky. Accordingly, drink plenty of water to avoid cramping in your lower limbs during the race. There isn’t a true consensus when it comes to “how much water” you should drink, but two 8-oz glasses is likely fine for a 5k run.
- Don’t push through pain – Running isn’t necessarily a comfortable experience, but if you happen to twist your foot and sprain an ankle or start to experience any sharp pain, that’s a problem. Instead of trying to tough it out, you may need assistance.
Enjoy Americana Festival – Without Foot Pain!
Hopefully these tips will help you avoid pain and problems when you attend the festival this year. In the event you have an existing issue that needs to be diagnosed and treated, contact our team at Sunshein Podiatry Associates. We will evaluate the situation, determine what is wrong (and why it happened!), and then create a plan to resolve it for you.
If you would like additional information or want to schedule an appointment with our Centerville office, simply give us a call at (937) 435-7477 or connect with us online today!