If you have aching and pain in your feet, you’re not alone. Twenty-five percent of adults have foot problems, with the numbers increasing with age.
The foot is complicated, a quarter of the bones in your body are in the feet (26), and a staggering eleven muscles have tendons crossing the ankle, so it’s no wonder they ache. The problem with foot problems is they cause problems in other areas, so it’s important to sort it out.
Tips for Avoiding Foot Problems
Staying the ideal weight should be a goal because aching and pain in the feet is more common in obese folks. Picture this: you carry approximately four to six times your body weight across the ankle joint when climbing up stairs or walking steep inclines so increased weight strains the arch leading to flat feet.
For aching feet, some basic stretching and flexibility exercises especially calf stretches will help you in so many ways.
Preventing nighttime leg cramps, heel pain from plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis, among other things. Rolling your foot on a can or tennis ball will loosen hamstrings, improve heel pain and stretch out feet that have been cramped in shoes all day.
When it comes to aching feet, It’s often about the shoes.
Tailoring your footwear to your specific type of foot is huge for the prevention of foot pain. Specialized footwear and orthotics work by changing the foot and lower leg muscles, which changes the way you walk, reducing stress on the feet. Shoes make a big difference in the way you walk. Science has shown us that signals from the feet lead to muscle activity changes and reduced stress on the lower leg.
More flop than flip. For the most part, thongs (flip flops) are a bad idea for everyone, and studies have shown they are related to foot pathology and deformity. Also, don’t use commercial footwear for non-specific foot problems without getting appropriate advice, which could exacerbate your condition and symptoms (insoles, orthotics, etc.).
High heels. Women who wear high heels are more likely to experience foot pain in their later years. Walking in high heels compromises gait….how you walk. It’s not surprising that the most significant changes are found around the foot and ankle joints, where high heels increase your risk of hallux valgus (bunions) along with other musculoskeletal foot and ankle pain. However, before you throw away all of your high heels, there is still no clear evidence of an association between high heel wear and arthritis of the knees—one piece of good news.
Grin and bare it. Barefoot walking is a highly debated topic. There is no question bare feet cause less load on the knees and hips, but for diabetics and folks with arthritis of the foot, it may cause problems. Recent intriguing studies are looking at the concept of grounding to the earth and the potential benefit of contact with the earth (via barefoot walking). “Barefoot sessions” even 30-40 minutes daily, have been shown to improve sleep, reduce pain and stress. Earthing (or grounding) refers to discovering benefits-including better sleep and reduced pain-from walking barefoot outside to transfer the Earth’s electrons from the ground into the body. Sounds weird, I know.
Hope this helps.
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I am a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a board-certified Internal Medicine physician. For 20 years I’ve had an active private practice in general internal medicine currently at The Doctors of USC Beverly Hills. I am lucky to spend part of my time as the attending physician for medical students and residents during their rotations at LAC+USC Medical Center. I’ve been a medical advisor on leading health social networking sites including Dailystrength.org and Sharecare and currently serve as the medical advisor and blogger for GoodRx.com, a prescription drug price comparison website, and GoodRx care powered by Hey Doctor.
My philosophy of care centers around seeing things we can see coming, and nailing them head-on. I appreciate the idea of sharing power and responsibility for the choices one makes for prevention, treatment, and investigation into medical problems. My hope is to write blog posts to empower patients to navigate their own health by laying out the ways that medicine can guide you with strategies to investigate, prevent, and treat some common medical issues, big and small.
I have appeared on The Doctors, Fox Sports West, The Ricki Lake Show, as well as many local news outlets and have been featured in numerous online and print publications. I am a fellow of the American College of Physicians and honored to be named “Top Doctor” in Los Angeles and Pasadena Magazine for years.