Treating and Preventing Foot Pain

Whether you are a long distance runner, enjoy a leisurely walk, are on your feet at work, or somewhere in between, foot pain can cause problems that can disrupt your everyday activities. It is important to understand how to take care of your feet and to make sure you are giving them the TLC they need to keep you moving.

Most foot pain is caused by having improper shoe fit and support for your foot type and for the activities you are performing. Every person’s foot is different and in order to prevent and treat problems, you must first understand how the foot functions. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) lists the essential functions of the foot on their blog, The basic functions of the foot can explain how your foot can be affected during each activity you do.

• Feet provide your base
– they play an important role in balance and support.
• Feet absorb shock
– their flexibility helps to minimize impact when the foot hits the ground.
• Feet propel you forward
– in addition to its role as a flexible “shock absorber,” the foot stiffens at a certain point in the running/walking cycle to help move you forward.

Foot problems are most commonly related to how a person’s foot is built, such as having a flat foot or a high arch. The basic functions of the foot are altered depending upon the anatomy of each individual’s foot type and can cause some functions to not be performed as easily as others. In order to compensate for the deficiencies, you must understand how your foot is built.

Persons with flat feet tend to have too much mobility in their feet and not enough support. This can lead to a higher risk of pain in the inside of the ankle or knee and can cause pain in the arch or heel of the foot (plantar fasciitis). A person with a high arch is likely to have poor shock absorbing abilities and may experience pain in the low back, knees and hips. This can also cause pain in the arch and heel (plantar fasciitis).

A physical therapist can provide an analysis of your feet and your running/walking style to help you prevent foot injuries and to insure that you have the proper foot wear. It is important to make sure your shoe store can also provide an analysis of your foot type when fitting you for running or walking shoes. Having the proper shoe fit or inserts will provide support in the areas appropriate for your foot type and will help lower your risk of having an injury.

Most of these symptoms can be treated easily if caught early. If you start to notice pain while running or walking you should make sure your shoe has the proper support for your foot type. If the pain continues rest and, if necessary, ice the affected area. You may consider physical therapy for advice and treatment or use the Alter-G at Dutch Physical Therapy. It provides un-weighted therapy that can be beneficial for patients recovering from an injury and allows you to continue to be active instead of resting while healing.