Preparing for Comrades: The athlete’s toolkit for tackling foot care woes

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South Africa’s great climate and beautiful natural resources support a vibrant running community, with trail and road running races popular countrywide. As the Comrades Marathon approaches on 9 June, many runners are preparing to compete in The Ultimate Human Race, and along with increasing endurance, foot care will need to be a priority. Kroko, manufacturers of South Africa’s leading foot care products, have shared valuable tips for athletes preparing to compete.

“The almost 90km Comrades Marathon is considered one of the world’s toughest but most prestigious road races in the world,” noted Lynsey Hammond, MD for Kroko. “It takes months of preparation, but something as simple as a blister, corn, or callus can put a runner off their game and affect their finish time. With a 12-hour cutoff, every minute counts so to support all the athletes competing, we’re sharing some tips on keeping feet healthy ahead of – and after – the race.”

1.       Get the right footwear

For marathon runners, the most important investment is the right pair of running shoes which offer support, cushioning, and stability. Shoes need to be snug but not too tight, with your toes free to move so most runners wear a size bigger than their normal shoe size. It’s best to have a backup pair for rotation during training.

2.       Wear quality socks

An often overlooked but similarly important investment is good running socks that fit well. Socks that are too tight can also cause corns and calluses.  Ill-fitting, wet cotton socks will lead to several foot health challenges including blisters. Acrylic brands that are lightweight and breathable are a good option.

3.       Keep your feet clean and dry

Before slipping your feet into socks and shoes, clean them with soap and water before drying them thoroughly – particularly between the toes. People who wear closed shoes and sweat heavily can be more prone to fungal infections too so it’s important to keep your feet as dry as possible.

4.       Keep your toenails short

Many runners are familiar with the sight of black toenails after hours of training, and while this isn’t always avoidable, the risk can be diminished. Cut your toenails regularly as longer toenails will press into your socks and running shoes, causing inflammation of the nails.

5.       Use quality foot powder

A runner’s best foot care product is a quality foot powder which absorbs moisture in the shoe and prevents blisters. Kroko Foot Powder has anti-fungal ingredients to help prevent fungal infections and athlete’s foot. The purified talc and zinc stearate will help absorb excess moisture. For best results, sprinkle the powder directly onto the foot as well as in the shoes.

6.       Strengthen and stretch your feet

Prevent foot injuries by stretching your feet and toes such as flexing and pointing toes or rolling a tennis ball underfoot. Another great one is standing with both feet flat on the floor, and then slowly lifting the big toe only on each foot. This improves circulation, strengthens feet, and can reduce the risk of cramps when running. A magnesium supplement will also help prevent cramps in the feet and other muscles.

7.       Treat corns and calluses early

Many experienced marathon runners have experienced the discomfort of corns and calluses. These are thick, hardened layers of skin that develop when the skin tries to protect itself against friction or pressure like from running shoes. It’s best to treat these quickly with effective products that yield results. Kroko’s flagship corn and callus remover has been the go-to treatment since 1936. The brand also has medicated Corn Plasters, Corn Protectors, and CornFix – an innovative liquid application with corn protectors included in the pack. Kroko’s corn and callus treatments are a runner’s best friend!

“The Kroko team would like to wish all Comrades Marathon runners success in this year’s race,” continued Hammond. “Know that Kroko is with you every step of the way!”

For more information, visit www.kroko.co.za or email info@kroko.co.za. Keep updated on all Kroko news by following Krokofootcare on Facebook or kroko_footcare on Instagram.