Foot pain is no laughing matter, especially when you’re a person like me who spends the majority of the day on her feet. Whether it’s standing for long periods at work, participating in a sport, or strolling around your favorite theme park, you depend on your feet to keep you in the game. But when you suffer from foot pain even the simplest of everyday tasks can seem daunting. Time to take action and manage that pain.
What Causes Foot Pain?
As a sports medicine doctor, I see a lot of patients who suffer from foot problems. The common causes of foot pain include:
- Spending long periods on your feet at home or work.
- Going barefoot or failing to wear decent shoes.
- Participation in certain sports like running and dancing.
- Your age and anatomy.
- Carrying excess weight, including pregnancy.
Conditions that contribute to foot pain can run the gamut from uncomfortable to downright debilitating. Many of these are due to overuse, including plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, tendonitis, stress fractures, osteoarthritis, and sprains. Others can result from the type of shoes you wear, like hammertoes, bunions, ingrown toenails on the big toes, and calluses. Still others are results of health conditions, including infections, neuromas and other nerve damage.
Tackle Foot Problems With Home Remedies
As a practitioner of orthopedic medicine and a sufferer of plantar fasciitis myself I have a lot of experience with evidence-based and homeopathic remedies that can help to relieve foot pain. Here are seven simple practices to try:
1. Invest In Decent Footwear
When it comes to foot pain, proper shoes should be your first line of defense. Wear shoes that are supportive and fit properly to drastically reduce daily foot pain. Never go barefoot, and choose athletic shoes over high heels or flip flops whenever possible. Shoe inserts and orthotic insoles can provide arch support, heel bone cushioning, and relief to aching feet. These are an ideal option if you have fallen arches or flat feet. Supportive compression socks can also help with arch pain.
2. Get In Your Daily Stretches
The fastest way to recovery is through stretching and rehabilitation. Giving feet a workout can help to strengthen and relax muscles and increase blood flow. Here’s a list of simple stretches and exercises that you can do at home with little to no equipment. Make sure to also focus on your calf muscles and Achilles tendon since these have a big impact on foot health. To see real results you should commit at least 15-20 minutes a day. Night splints that give your feet a gentle stretch while you sleep may also be a helpful option for certain conditions.
3. Enjoy A Foot Massage
If physical therapy or a trip to the masseuse isn’t possible, self-massage (or a foot rub from your significant other) at home can help to stretch the plantar fascia and reduce foot and heel pain. Use your thumbs to gently apply pressure to the heel and arch of your foot. Applying essential oils or lotions to sore areas can also help with touch therapy. If you prefer to use a tool, try rolling a tennis ball under the arch of your foot.
4. Indulge In A Foot Bath
Soaking in a warm foot bath is a great way to relax overstressed muscles and connective tissues after a long day of standing or physical activity. Indulge in a little bit of “me time” to submerge your feet in a tub of warm water for about 10 minutes. Adding some Epsom salt (1-2 tablespoons per gallon) can provide an extra soothing effect for aching feet.
5. Ice It Down
When you’ve sustained an injury or have chronically sore feet, you can use cold therapy to reduce swelling and inflammation. And it’s great for recovery after being physically active. Icing is easy to do at home. Wrap a towel around an ice pack, a bag of ice, or use a frozen water bottle (a great at-home rehab trick for plantar fasciitis!) and apply to the foot for no more than 20 minutes three or four times a day for the best results.
6. Take Time for R & R
I can’t stress the importance of rest enough when it comes to healing, especially concerning overuse injuries. Finding time to sit back and relax is a luxury many moms rarely experience, but it’s crucial in allowing the tissues in your feet to heal. Try to give your tired feet a break for a couple of days. If you want to stay active, try swapping out your high-impact activities with low-impact ones like swimming or cycling.
7. Medications For Foot Pain Relief
I often prefer a homeopathic approach to dealing with pain and injuries. But, when you know you’ve got to be on your feet, over-the-counter medicines are an easy go-to for pain relief. Choose from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or analgesic pain relievers like acetaminophen. Topical analgesics are another option that may provide relief when used with a foot massage. When taking oral medications, just be aware of the possible side effects. Talk with your family doctor if you feel you may have health risks.
Make Foot Care A Priority
When you’ve got foot pain, washing the dishes, playing a round of hide-and-seek, or simply walking up and down the stairs become activities you find excuses to avoid just so you don’t have to be on your feet. Don’t let your foot pain control your life!
If over-the-counter medications and these practical at-home remedies aren’t helping to relieve your foot pain, it may be time for a visit to the doctor. A podiatrist, orthopedic or sports medicine doctor can assess your feet to help you find the root of the problem. They may also prescribe medications and other treatment options for foot pain. Be proactive and soon you’ll be on the way to happy feet.