NYC Foot & Ankle Center
NYC Foot & Ankle Center

Every Athlete Should Do This to Protect Their Feet

Jun 17, 2024
Every Athlete Should Do This to Protect Their Feet

If you’re an athlete, you already know you rely on your feet quite a bit. Continue reading to learn nine things you can do to protect your feet, reduce your risk of injury, and keep your feet healthy and happy.

Whether you're a runner, a basketball player, a dancer, or you’re involved in a sport, taking care of your feet is non-negotiable. Without healthy feet, it’s impossible to cross the finish line, execute a grand jeté across the stage, or rush down the court for a game-winning layup. 

Our providers at NYC Foot & Ankle Center in the Manhattan Valley neighborhood of the Upper West Side see firsthand how acute injuries, chronic pain, and overuse injuries can quickly sabotage your athletic performance. Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect your feet and reduce your risk of injury.

Here are nine things you need to do.

1. Choose the right shoes

It might go without saying, but it’s worth repeating. Your shoes are more than a fashion accessory. Your shoes are designed to protect your feet, help boost your athletic performance, and, in some cases, prevent injuries — think about those high-top supports on basketball shoes that help prevent rolled ankles!

Invest in quality athletic shoes designed for your specific sport and foot type. Properly fitting shoes provide support, cushioning, and stability, but don’t assume that you’ll wear the same size in every brand. 

Get a professional fitting and try on your shoes in the afternoon before committing to them. Why? Your feet naturally swell in the afternoon (after you’ve been on your feet all day), so this strategy ensures your new shoes will fit even when you’ve been walking all day.

If you wear specific shoes for your sport, such as pointe shoes for ballet or rock-climbing shoes, work with a professional to ensure you get the highest quality and best-fitting pair. 

2. Warm up your feet

You probably already warm up your muscles before intense physical activity, but don’t forget to warm up your feet, too! Warming up and stretching your feet and calves improves their flexibility and prevents strains.

3. Never wear soggy socks

Your feet can sweat quite a bit during physical activity, but it’s still important to keep them as dry as possible. Keeping your feet clean and dry can help prevent fungal infections like athlete's foot. Wear moisture-wicking socks and change them regularly, especially after sweaty workouts.

Alternate pairs of shoes between workouts to give your athletic shoes a chance to fully dry out, and, as always, wear shower shoes in communal areas to help prevent athlete's foot.

Tip: Keep an extra pair of clean socks in your gym bag so you can change into fresh socks before heading home.

4. Trim your toenails properly … but not your cuticles 

As an athlete, you have a higher risk of ingrown nails since a lot of your time is spent in snug shoes. You can reduce your risk of developing one by cutting your nails straight across. Cuticles protect your nail roots, so refrain from cutting them or pushing them, per the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommendations for nail trimming.

5. Pamper your feet after each event

After each workout, game, or dance, pamper your feet. Pampering includes everything from checking your feet for blisters and cuts to massaging your feet. You can also use acupressure mats, foam rollers, and massage balls to soothe tired, achy feet. Or simply soak your feet (or your whole body for that matter!) in an Epsom salt bath.

6. Try recovery shoes

Recovery shoes aren’t just comfy shoes; they’re specially designed for wear after intense workouts to help speed up your recovery.


While they’re most comfortable among runners, anyone engaging in intense foot-heavy workouts can benefit from them.

7. Cross-train 

Incorporate cross-training activities into your routine to reduce repetitive stress on your feet. Many motivated athletes may feel tempted to skip rest breaks in lieu of more training, but resist that temptation and prioritize rest and recovery to allow your feet time to heal between workouts.

8. Listen to your feet

If something hurts, stop what you're doing and get your feet examined. A small break (and any necessary treatments) can help you safely return to your sport. On the other hand, pushing through the pain can sometimes prolong your healing and increase your risk of other injuries.

9. Get help for issues when they arise

Whether you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis, an ingrown nail, or a stress fracture, don’t put off podiatric care. Here at NYC Foot & Ankle Center, our team knows how important your performance is. That’s why we offer a variety of cutting-edge treatments, including shockwave therapy, to help you get back on your feet quickly but safely.

If you’re an athlete struggling with chronic foot pain or a new injury, contact our office today to schedule a consultation. You can call us or utilize our online booking tool.