Yep, foot pain. It’s one area we spent some significant time on in school but still, I never thought I’d treat so many feet. Don’t worry though, feet don’t bother me. Our feet get abused all day, standing, running, jumping, bad shoes, high heels, concrete floors. Luckily they’re pretty sturdy and structurally, they’re made to hold up to all that abuse. Each foot contains 26 bones, most of that in the toes, a ton of muscles, and likely some rough skin (go get a pedicure or use a pumice stone at least #treatyourfeet). We can go all into mechanics of the foot, arches, and whatnot, but that’s not why you’re here (is it?). No, you just want to know how to fix your foot pain.
The most common type of foot pain is Plantar Fascitis (PF for short). Plantar Fascitis has, unfortunately, over some time become a catchall for “foot pain” even when it’s not actually Plantar Fascitis. PF hallmark signs are:
Pain worse in the morning after waking up
Worse when standing up after sitting for some time
Pain local to the heel bone or arch of the foot
Decreased dorsiflexion (bending your ankle and toes up toward the front of your knee)
Tight Achilles Tendon
Pain worse when barefoot or when on hard surfaces
While the exact cause of PF can vary, it is usually caused by a sudden increase in your activity level. This is why I see more foot pain in the spring vs the rest of the year. It’s been cold outside and you haven’t been running but when that first warm day hits, BOOM, let’s run a marathon! So this spring, ease into your running a bit more than normal, please.
Another common foot pain we see is Achilles Tendonitis. This is actually really similar to PF, just on the back of your heel instead of the bottom of your heel. Pretty much the same approach other than the location of the pain.
Now, more traumatic injuries like ankle sprains/strains are also common too. These can come from almost any activity from walking to jumping. Now, there isn’t much you can do to reduce the risk of this happening - they’re all accidents - so let’s focus on getting them better. Once any complete tears are ruled out, we’ll start with managing the pain and inflammation. Usually, this involves just some ice and gentle range of motion. It may be needed to brace the joint for a short period to allow the tissue to heal properly if the injury is more on the severe side. Other modalities that may see some use would be things like electronic stimulation for pain relief, ultrasound to decrease swelling or, cold laser to improve healing times. Then we progress into restoring the full range of motion and stabilizing the joint using a variety of strengthening exercises. While we follow guidelines of which exercises to use, each injury requires its on customization so don’t worry, we’re not handing you a general print-out of exercises to do (you can check out our Instagram Page to see some examples of the exercises). Depending on your goals, we may end here but if you are returning to a sport then we’ll go over some more sport-specific movements and training with you to get you back on the field or court.
Some other examples of foot issues we treat are:
Joint Capsule Injuries
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome and other nerve entrapments