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Ten Tips for Protecting Your Feet and Joints

A sports podiatrist makes sense of the sneaker sweepstakes

Runners and joggers can keep their feet happy by using a little common sense.

1. Buy new running shoes every 250 to 450 miles. Buy new walking shoes after every 400 hours of use. That translates into ten hours of walking weekly for 40 weeks.

2. Remember that your feet aren't identical. Fit the larger one when buying shoes.

3. Always test new shoes before you buy them. Ask the sales person if you can jog around the block first. Good shoes should feel comfortable right away, not just when they've been "broken in."

4. Wear clean dry socks. You can get blisters otherwise.

5. Avoid running on sidewalks and sand. When your foot hits sand, it keeps going because the sand gives. This can stretch the achilles tendon painfully. Concrete doesn't give at all. It transmits shock through your legs, knees and back.

6. Never begin a workout without first stretching. Gentle, regular stretching greatly reduces the risk of injury.

7. Follow the 10 percent rule. Runners should increase their mileage by 10 percent a week, but level off every third week. Working out in excess of three to five days a week strains limbs and joints and can cause heel problems, shin splints, ankle twists and stress fractures.

8. Don't be a weekend warrior. Busy weeks leave little time, but it is dangerous to cram a week's worth of exercise into a weekend.

9. Stop exercising at the first signs of pain. Follow the mnemonic, RICE - which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation - to ease the discomfort.

10. See a doctor if the pain persists. It is difficult to tell if a foot bone is broken.

SOURCE: Dr. Stephen Pribut, Washington, D.C.

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Updated on October 8, 1995