More than two million Americans suffer from foot and heel pain each year. As many as one in 10 will suffer from a foot or ankle injury at some point in their lifetime. Most people will completely recover from an episode, but it may take a year or more if left untreated. Doing the right things can greatly decrease the amount of time it takes to recover from the injury and can prevent recurrence of pain, thus limiting the time you are away from the active lifestyle you love. The fastest way to END foot and ankle pain is by going to see a physical therapist who specializes in foot and ankle treatment, and not all do. The foot and ankle is the most complex of all the body parts and as such not all therapists develop the skills and understanding needed to effectively treat these areas of the body. Working with a physical therapist who is a foot and ankle specialist means you’re going to receive access to care and knowledge that will help you soothe and relax those tight aching muscles, loosen and lubricate stiff, stuck and painful joints, and strengthen your body so that you can return to doing the things that you love.
Combine all of the “tips” in this report with a trip to see Leslie and her team at
Three Lakes Physical Therapy and you will quickly see a dramatic drop in the
pain (and stiffness) you are currently limited by.
5 mistakes people with foot pain make and how to avoid them
1. Wearing the wrong shoes
Ladies, those high heels may be stylish, but you should be avoiding them like the plague. Wearing high heels increases pressure on the heel, ball of the foot, and in other joints such as the ankle, knees and hips. The effects of high heels are cumulative so be mindful of wear over years. Also avoid shoes that are too flimsy and don’t provide adequate arch support. If you can twist your shoe more than ¼ way in any direction, it will not provide enough medial arch support and will stress the important tissues which attach on your heel. Don’t go barefoot either, even in the house, while experiencing pain. Your inflamed tissues will appreciate some cushioning. If you need help selecting proper shoes, visit a store where they have knowledgeable staff who will watch you walk in the shoes and let you know if they are a good choice for your gait style. Feel free to ask your therapist for recommendations as well.
2. Resting too long
It is natural for some people in pain to want to avoid activity. Face it, if activity hurts, we won’t want to do it. Inactivity causes its own issues though. It contributes to decreased blood flow and lymphatic flow in tissues, slowing healing, and contributes to muscle and joint stiffness, weight gain and reduced cardiovascular fitness. All of these further contribute to pain or may lead to other injuries or problems. It is important to your physical and mental well being that you stay active while healing. You may have to briefly avoid or modify the activity which initially caused your pain but try lower impact exercise such as cycling, swimming or yoga while you allow your foot or ankle pain to improve. Additionally, be selective about where you walk while you are having pain. Standing or walking on concrete, hard or gravelly surfaces will increase your foot pain and stress other joints. Instead, walk on grass, a padded track or even a treadmill to reduce pain and stay active.
3. Using heat not ICE for pain
Ice has both analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and can help ease your pain, without popping pills. It is the pain reduction recommendation of most physical therapists. Ice or a cold pack can be applied for 10-15 minutes directly to the painful area up to every other hour. Be careful not to apply ice directly to the skin. A thin layer between the ice and your skin should be sufficient. Heat can be used to help with stiffness but external heat has proven largely ineffective at such. The most effective way to increase temperature in a joint and decrease stiffness is to engage in movement and increase blood flow through exercise.
4. Being specialized in a single activity.
Many people who enjoy an activity or workout regularly only do so in one way. For example, runners run and cyclists hit the bike. People often go to the gym but complete the same workout each time. This often leads to muscle imbalances. Being inactive is even worse. It is important to keep your foot muscles, calf muscles, hip muscles and core muscles all strong. These muscles affect how your feet hit the ground when you walk and how your body deals with the impact and incongruencies of the ground. Weak muscles will not contribute to impact control properly. This forces the foot and other joints to take the brunt of the stress which may ultimately lead to pain. Varying your activities and doing proper focused strength training and proprioceptive activities will help ensure your body can properly mitigate the impact you put on it while moving throughout your day and will help ensure your feet do not take more than their fair share of the stress. Physical therapists can perform a comprehensive strength evaluation and both let you know your individual areas of weakness and teach you the best ways to strengthen them.
5. Stretching improperly, not enough, or simply not Stretching at all
It is important to stretch your feet, calf muscles and the muscles around your hips and low back at the start and end of each day. Not doing so can contribute to stiffness and a build-up of myofascial restrictions in your muscles which limit range of motion and also the ability of your muscles to absorb impact. If you are having heel pain try stretching your calf muscles even more frequently. Each muscle should be stretched for a minimum of 90 seconds to achieve fiber elongation. Proper yoga participation is a great way to increase and maintain flexibility. If you have questions about how to stretch properly or have already built up significant myofascial restrictions due to improper stretching in the past, you need to see your physical therapist.
And a bonus.... Letting it go too long
Pain is not a normal thing. If you have pain it is your body's sign to you that something is not right and needs to be addressed or changed. This is especially true if the pain just crept up versus knowing exactly what happened to cause it. If pain lasts more than a few days or these tips don’t quickly resolve it it is a sign you need some extra help to make it resolve. After all, it has been my experience that the longer someone lets it go without getting the help they need the longer it will take to heal once you do begin treatment. Contact your doctor early and ask for a referral to Physical Therapy or just call our office and we will help you get what you need.
So, there you have it, 6 things that you can do TODAY to improve your general health, and ease any Footor ankle Pain that you are currently in. I could go much more in-depth than what I’ve given you here but taking the steps outlined in this article will provide a great start. In the weeks ahead, I look forward to talking with you about how physical therapy can make a huge difference to your life. I hope this is the beginning of a great, long-term relationship where myself and my colleagues from Three Lakes Physical Therapy become your lifelong
choice for physical therapy treatment and advice. We will make a positive difference to your life.