Foot pain can seriously disrupt the quality of life for anyone, regardless of fitness levels. Today, Dr. Taylor Levick reveals the most common reasons foot pain develops and what to do to keep it from breaking your stride.
When it comes to foot pain, visiting your doctor can help you rule out more serious injuries such as fractures. But when the source of pain isn’t straightforward, the common advice given is to “take some time to rest.” Unfortunately, this advice isn’t always helpful or practical, especially if your job requires you to be on your feet.
Here we address some of the most common underlying causes of foot pain. While we won’t be discussing specific diagnoses, such as plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis, there is often a significant overlap in what causes a lot of these conditions to occur.
How Foot Pain Develops
When the force applied to the tissue exceeds what that tissue is prepared to handle, an injury occurs. This applies both to acute injuries as well as chronic or repetitive strain injuries.
One way to reduce our risk of injury is to ensure our body is moving efficiently. Since we need full range of motion with our movements when we walk, run, squat, etc., lack of mobility in certain joints can force the body to overcompensate to get the job done.
One common form of overcompensation is what is referred to as overpronation. This is the body’s way of moving around limitations in the big toe and ankle. Overpronation occurs when the arch of the foot collapses excessively. Subsequently the shin, knee, and thigh rotate inwards, putting extra pressure on the surrounding tissues. This may make your body more susceptible to foot pain.
Diagnosing this can give us tremendous insight into how to rehab an injury. We can either strengthen the injured tissue to make it more resilient, or decrease the intensity of forces applied to it, or both.
Building Strength and Reducing Impact
Stretching and foam rolling the calves is an excellent place to start. When stiff, this muscle group can limit ankle dorsiflexion and cause the compensation pattern discussed above.
Stretch it Out with a Lacrosse Ball & Foam Roller
- Place a foam roller on the floor and take a side position with the outside of your lower leg on the foam roller.
- Roll the entire outside of your calf from your upper tibia to your ankle in an up and down motion.
- Do not roll over the knee.
- Maintain tightness in your abs and proper low back posture during the exercise.
- Repeat for 6 – 8 passes.
Stretching and massaging the foot can also be very helpful. You can use a lacrosse ball to massage the bottom of the foot to help in the effort to re-acquire this range of motion.
- Sit in a chair to help control the pressure put on your feet.
- Take a lacrosse ball and place it under your affected foot.
- Apply downward pressure on the lacrosse ball with the foot.
- Stay off the heel & ball of the foot, keeping the ball inside the foot.
- Move the ball under your foot to find tender spots.
- Once you are on a tender spot, hold the position while applying pressure.
- Continue to massage for up to 30 seconds.
Build Strength with Toe Yoga
Lastly, we need to strengthen the musculature in the foot and lower leg to better resist overpronation. While the following exercise is not the only way to strengthen your legs and feet, it is a convenient exercise you can do anywhere which is a great place to start.
- Sit in a chair with bare feet.
- With one foot, lift your big toe up and push your other four toes into the ground.
- Next, push your big toe down and lift your other four toes off the ground.
- Repeat 10 times on each foot.
*Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Stop immediately if you experience any pain, tingling, or difficulties performing these exercises.*
Don’t Let Foot Pain Trip You Up
Give the above stretches and exercises a try and see if they help to alleviate the pain. If no improvement is seen after a few weeks, schedule an appointment with your local Airrosti provider and get a more customized treatment plan to get rid of your foot pain fast.
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