Workout for Your Feet? You Betcha!

Our feet are strong. They bear the weight of our bodies, carry us from place to place, and keep us upright. But foot injuries can send us to the sidelines and could keep us there for a long time. When we experience an injury, we should deal with it immediately to ensure it heals quickly.


When we pull a muscle, we know how to get it back to normal. When we break a bone, we have it put in a cast. But when we hurt our feet, how do we make them feel better?


Listed below are some common causes of foot pain and exercises to help with it.


Diagnose Your Foot Problems

There are many things that can cause pain in the foot. We've all stepped on a Lego at one point or another, so we know how debilitating foot pain can be. Here are some other common causes:


Overwork

Each year we make resolutions. Many of these include dropping those pesky few pounds we packed on during the winter holiday. We go to the gym with the intention of working out until we are where we want to be. But after the first day, we hurt. Our muscles hurt. Our bones hurt. Our feet hurt.


And instead of taking a day off to recuperate, we go back the next day and push ourselves harder. A sore muscle is the body's way of telling you it was worked out properly. Pain is the body's way of telling you something is wrong. Common problems caused by overworking your feet include the following:

  • A blister is a bubble on the skin cause by excessive friction. A blister may be a sign your shoes do not fit properly or your foot is overworked.
  • Corns are a lot like blisters, but as friction rubs the skin, the skin dies and forms a hard surface. If sweat gets trapped inside the core of the corn, the core stays soft. These are usually caused by shoes that don't fit and will go away with a change in footwear.
  • An ingrown toenail occurs when the nail grows into the adjacent skin. This can be caused by an irregular nail, cutting toe nails incorrectly, added pressure on the big toe, or injury.
  • A stress fracture is a small crack in the bone cause by repeated overuse. A stress fracture can exist anywhere in the foot, but the most common bones to experience this type of fracture are the metatarsal bones, which are the bones that make up the length of your foot.


Improper Arch Support

There are three arches on the foot: one on the inside of the foot, one on the outside, and one on the ball of the foot. These arches are designed to disperse pressure created by walking.


Most shoes only provide support for one of these arches, while others, like high-heels, completely disregard their use and cause problems in other parts of the foot.


Exercise Your Feet

There are a number of exercises that can relieve or completely remove foot pain:


Ankle Up/Down: By angling your foot up, you increase muscle strength in the shin and increases the foot's range of motion. By angling the foot down, you increase muscle strength in the calf.


Raise and lower your foot as far as you can and hold this position for at least 10 seconds. Do three sets of 10 repetitions.


Bent/Straight Knee Wall Stretch: Face a wall with your shoulders parallel to the wall. Lean against the wall, keeping one foot forward and the other back. In a bent knee wall stretch, keep the back leg bent. In a straight leg wall stretch, keep the back leg straight.


This exercise should stretch different parts of the calf muscle.


Toe Pick Ups: To strengthen your toes, make piles of small objects. Move the objects from one pile to another. This will improve flexibility and toe strength.


Calf Raises: Stand on a level surface and lift your heels off the ground. Hold this position for roughly 10 seconds. Repeat the action 10 times.


Foot Massage: Take your big toe and pull towards your knee as far as you are comfortable. With the thumb of your other hand, deeply massage the area just in front of your heel.


Another technique that can be used to massage your feet is to fill up a water bottle and freeze it. Make sure to leave enough air in the bottle so the ice won't expand and explode in your freezer. Once the bottle has frozen, roll your foot on top of the bottle for 10 minutes.


These will give your feet the attention they need, and your feet will thank you for it.


If the pain you feel in your feet does not subside or disappear within a few days, contact a podiatrist. As stated before, pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong. Listen to your body and protect your feet.