Sore feet are not only uncomfortable; they can put a big dent in your productivity and turn even the simplest task into a burdensome chore. Causes for sore feet can range from ill-fitting shoes to physical deformities, but luckily there are as many different solutions as there are problems; the trick is finding what works best for you. Many common foot problems like heel spurs, flat feet and torn ligaments can be solved best by using bio-mechanical intervention that can range from drug store variety inserts to custom-made orthotic devices.
Determining the Problem
To find the source of sore feet, start with the obvious culprit, ill-fitting shoes that do not provide the proper support for your body frame. So called “sensible shoes” with low profiles, sturdy arches and ankle support often provide instant relief from minor foot issues caused by inappropriate footwear. Under some conditions, like standing on hard or uneven surfaces all day, additional relief can be provided by drug store inserts that create a layer of cushioning for your feet to reduce the impact of each step. If these simple tactics do not yield favorable results, it is wise to consult with The Podiatrist to examine your feet to determine if you are suffering from treatable foot maladies that would benefit from custom-made orthotic devices.
The Podiatrist can examine your foot to determine if your problem results from an injury to or is the result of the way your foot functions in relation to the rest of your body. Injuries from sports and recreational activities can often be cured by providing proper support during the recuperation process so that the injury is not irritated and can heal properly. These types of inserts, pads and braces are temporary and will eventually become unnecessary.
If the problem lies in the basic structure of your foot, however, a more permanent orthotic will be recommended that is strategically designed to make your foot function correctly when you take a step. A cast of your foot is made and The Podiatrist uses this model to create the proper orthotic out of plastic, wood or rigid rubber. This kind of treatment can not only provide relief for sore feet, it can also have a direct impact on your legs and torso because it subtly changes your posture and corrects muscular issues that stemmed from improper balance.
See The Podiatrist for any foot problems.
Heel pain affects a large portion of the population, often resulting in visits to The Podiatrist. Plantar fasciitis is typically the diagnosis the patient receives during the visit; however, plantar fasciitis is only one potential cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is a strong, dense strip of tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot. Its sole job is to support the arch of the foot. .
It is easy to see how the plantar fascia may be causing all this pain as the foot impacts the ground when you think about how often the full weight of the body is concentrated on the plantar fascia. This forces it to stretch as the arch of the foot flattens from the full weight of the body, possibly leading to stress where the plantar fascia attaches at the heel bone. If this keeps up, the result can be pain caused by small tears of the fascia.
If it is not the plantar fascia then what else could be causing my heel pain?
Calf muscle weakness (muscles on the back of the lower leg) can result in referred pain directly to the heel.This is seen after someone has changed/added a workout program or modified the type of shoes they wear. This adds additional stress to the calf muscles that they may not have been ready for and lead small areas of irritation in the muscles.>
Calf muscle tightness – this causes the connective tissue surrounding the muscle to pull harder on the Achilles tendon leading to tightness at the heel, possibly resulting in the pain you’re feeling.
Sciatic nerve irritation – the nerve that runs from the low back through the hip and down the leg to the foot can get tight or pinched not allowing the nerve to move easily as you walk. This can lead to irritation of the nerve causing pain that is located at the heel. This is very common for anyone with any history of low back pain or hip pain.
Poor Posture – if you sit slumped forward most of the day the muscles and structures from the back of your neck, upper back, lower back, and hips can get tight and shortened, consequently pulling on the heel.>
Weakness of the muscles around the hip can cause muscles in the leg to shorten to help stabilize, consequently pulling on the heel.>
Why is this so confusing?
It may be hard for you to pinpoint the cause of heel pain yourself because the symptoms are the same for all of the above listed causes. No matter what the cause, you will experience pain on or around the heel when weight is placed on the foot. This is usually worse in the morning, especially with the first few steps after getting out of bed. In most cases, there is no pain at night, but this is not a rule as many of our patients report increased pain at night. Pain of typical plantar fasciitis is typically believed to decrease over the course of the day as the tissue warms up; however, patients have also reported increased discomfort as the day progresses, leading on to investigate other areas as the source or cause. Additionally, prolonged standing, walking, or getting up after long periods of sitting are commonly reported with all of the above causes. Again, the reports can be as varied as the potential causes.
Activities that make the pain worse:
Excessive running or jumping
Changing physical activity (especially for athletes)
High arches, flat feet, abnormal gait
Wearing improper shoes while walking or running
The Steps to Relieve Heel Pain
In most cases, heel pain does not require surgery and can be treated conservatively, but the first step is to obtain an evaluation by The Podiatrist who can help pin point the actual cause of the pain that’s specific to you. It is important to not treat the symptom of heel pain, but to isolate and treat the cause.
The Podiatrist may then recommend treatment , depending on the needs of your particular condition. In extremely painful conditions, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, and in severe cases give you a cortisone shot to address excessive inflammation.
Most people with heel pain get better with the help of The Podiatrist, but don’t wait. The longer you “live” with the pain the longer it may take to get rid of it as your body adapts. Most acute cases (less than 30 days) can get better within 6-8 weeks. Additionally, treatment should include activities that directly address the cause of your heel pain and are designed to include you in the healing process, so your participation is critical.
The Podiatrist specializes in the treatment and management of all foot related problems and will assess what is the cause of your foot/heel pain, not the symptom.
For more information or to find out if you are a good candidate for our services contact The Podiatrist
The shoes you wear can make you feel slim, sexy, and stylish—or they can leave you wincing in pain.
Ever wonder how much damage you are doing when you walk to work in sky-high heels or scuff through errands in flip-flops?
How High Heels Cause You Pain
There’s a reason most women willingly forgo comfort to squeeze their feet into stilettos: Adding inches makes you look slimmer, accentuates calf muscles, and even lifts your backside.
But you may be doing lasting damage if you live your life in heels. A 2011 Danish study found that walking in heels can increase the risk of osteoarthritis six-fold.
Imagine standing on the edge of a ski slope with your toes pointing downhill. To compensate for this tipped-forward position, it’s natural to bend your knees slightly and arch your back. As a result, your quads are forced to work overtime, which makes them tight and prone to injury. Walking with your knees slightly bent also puts 200 percent more stress on your kneecaps, which can wear away at the cartilage and increase your risk of developing arthrits.
The added height of heels puts extra strain on the shin muscles, which control the forefoot. This repetitive strain can eventually lead to painful shin splints.
Heels put your calf muscles in a shortened position. Over time, this can become permanent: One study in the Journal of Experimental Biology found regular heel wearers had calf muscles that were an average of 13 percent shorter than those of nonheel wearers, making it uncomfortable for them to walk without heels because their natural stride was thrown off.
High Heels Help
Stretch it out.
Give your calves a good daily stretch like this one from Bowman: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place a rolled-up towel under the ball of your right foot. Lower your right heel to the floor. Once you’re comfortable here, take a small step forward with your left foot, keeping your hips square. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and work up to 60 seconds.
Massage your shins.
Relieve shin pain with a gentle self-rubdown, applying long vertical finger strokes down the front of your lower leg. Then focus on kneading the muscles horizontally, says Bowman.
Embrace the commuter shoe.
Switch to low-heeled options for getting places, and save those skyscrapers for when you’re mostly sitting pretty.
Feet swell over the day, so if a shoe feels slightly tight at 7 a.m., it’ll be a vise by nightfall. Only buy shoes that are roomy enough, and consider going lower. Research shows that 2-inch heels create impact forces 4 percent greater than flats, while 3-inch heels boost stress by 33 percent
How Flats Cause Foot Pain
Flats sound like the healthier alternative to heels, but the truth is that even a basic ballet flat or canvas casual can be just as problematic.
Many flats lack internal support (like the kind you find in a sneaker). Without it, the ligaments and tendons along the bottom of your foot can overstretch and the arch can collapse. This in turn can lead to the painful foot condition plantar fasciitis—a notoriously hard-to-treat burning or aching along the bottom of the foot. Poor internal support is especially problematic if you’re naturally flat-footed.
Many casual flats have even less interior cushioning than heels or sandals. This lack of padding can trigger pain in the heel or ball of your foot when you’re walking, especially if you have high arches.
Fixes for Flat Shoes
Give your feet a workout.
To wear shoes with no built-in support, you need to strengthen the tiny foot muscles that support your arch. Try doing toe lifts: Raise your big toe without moving the rest of the gang. Until you get the knack, wiggle your toes and rub your feet vigorously, which will stimulate your nerve endings and help wake up your feet. Do 20 toe lifts per foot.
Stretch it out.
Just as the abductor/adductor machine at the gym strengthens your outer and inner thighs, you can work your toe abductors and adductors to make the muscles of your foot stronger and more supportive. Start by interlacing your fingers with your toes to help press them apart, then spread and relax them without assistance from your hands. Hold the stretch long enough to sing the alphabet. Do this once a day (or up to three times if you have bunions).
Bump it up.
Help strengthen the small muscles in your feet and lower legs by striding barefoot across an uneven surface such as cobblestones. This also helps stimulate the nerves in your feet. Buy a pre-made cobblestone mat with smooth stones already glued to it, or find (or make) a bumpy space to walk back and forth on in your backyard.
Add OTC insoles.
If you have flat feet (your wet footprint shows the entire foot), foam or rubber insoles can help prevent your arches from collapsing. If you have high arches (you see only the heel and ball of your foot in your footprint), look for an insole with more rigid arch support.
Look for flats with an insole that curves along the same lines as your foot and arch. Then try to fold the shoe in half—it should bend only at the ball (the same place your foot naturally bends as you walk). Also avoid pairs that fold right in the middle or roll up easily.
How Toning Shoes Cause Foot Pain
Shoes with rounded or “rocker” soles that purportedly increase muscle activity and boost calorie burn are big business—after all, who doesn’t want to get a workout without really working out? But despite their medical provenance (rocker-bottom shoes were originally engineered to help patients with pain in the balls of the feet, says Leahy), consider the following before you get a pair as a fitness tool.
The rigid soles prevent arches from naturally flexing. Eventually, this can cause your arches to flatten and lead to overpronation (when the feet excessively roll in while walking). The result: Your feet absorb less shock, causing your knees and back to take on extra stress.
Relief from Rocker Shoes
Be inspired (but don’t skip your strength workout).
If these shoes help you feel more conscious of the benefits of every step you take and make you want to walk more, go for it! But don’t skip proven strengtheners. The best way to tone your lower body is with strength moves such as squats and lunges, not just walking around in toning shoes.
Contact The Podiatrist (www.thepodiatrist.co.nz)