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Take time to treat your feet if you want them to stay fleet

Update: If you are a runner, you depend on strong, healthy feet to participate successfully in your sport. I recently saw an article from the June 1997 issue of Running & FitNews that focused on how to take care of feet. Here's a summary:

According to the article, the first step in avoiding problems is to choose shoes that fit properly and are well-made. The article suggests that you buy shoes "late in the day" so that your feet are at their largest size.Apparently, feet expand about one size (one-third of an inch) in length and width after only about 30 minutes of continuous activity.

Next, check the quality of stitching and gluing of the shoes you like. Feel inside for lumps and bumps that may cause problems when you run. Take your normal running socks with you to the store and try shoes on while wearing them. Also, try both shoes - feet are not perfectly symmetrical, so you need to be sure that both feet fit. Walk around the store and climb stairs if possible. If there is any question about how they fit, try another pair.

Avoid cotton socks, which absorb sweat and stay damp. Acrylic or polypropylene socks wick sweat away from your feet so that it can evaporate. Thicker socks are better for preventing blisters.

Besides choosing good shoes and socks, the article suggested the following exercises to help your feet deal with a vigorous lifestyle:

- From a sitting position, curl your toes around the edge of a towel and lift for five seconds. Alternate feet until they begin to feel tired.

- From a standing position, feet 12- to 18-inches apart, turn your ankles and stand first on the outside edges of your feet, then on the inside edges. Try 20 to 30 repeats.

- Try walking around on your toes for five minutes and then walk around on your heels.