Whether it is after a long day at work or when you’re out shopping with friends, there are numerous times in your life when you’re prone to sore feet. And painful feet are a common problem. In 2012, an Institute for Preventive Foot Health research study concluded that more than half of the population of the United States aged 21 and above have experienced foot pain and discomfort and some point in their lives.
Whilst the soreness may manifest all over the foot, the real culprit lies in the weight bearing areas of the foot such as the ball and the heel. Usually these areas are protected by fatty pads. During childhood, these pads are thick and act as shock absorbers, cushioning the impact on the joints each time the foot hits the ground. This is a necessity to prevent injury in lively and active children, full of energy. By the time we are in our mid-30s, these fatty pads no longer offer enough protection, and as we grow older they can diminish to less than half of their original size and resulting support.
Foot pain is quite normal after you’ve spent a lot of time standing or walking, and it usually goes away after a rest. If the condition worsens, however, and becomes chronic, it can affect all of your activities such as work, exercise and other forms of recreational activity. In this case it is useful to understand a little more about the possible causes of the soreness, and what you can do about it.
What Are The Possible Sources Of Sore Feet?
- Tightness or swelling in the plantar fascia. Plantar fascia is sheet of membrane that forms the arch of the foot, connecting the ball to the heel. Plantar fasciitis is a condition where it becomes inflamed and painful.
- Excessive impact on the heels or balls of the feet, resulting in tissue damage and bruising.
- Ingrown toenail. When the toenail grows into the soft flesh surrounding it, the area can become infected and very painful.
- Arthritis and gout. These conditions cause pain and swelling in the foot and ankle joints.
- Fractured Bones. Sometimes hairline fractures caused by impact to the sole of the foot can go undiagnosed, causing a constant generalized dull pain or a localized sharp pain upon impact to the affected area.
- Bunion. This is the swollen, hard skin protruding from the joint of the big toe.
- Morton’s neuroma. This condition is a nerve enlargement of the 3rd and 4th toes.
What Are The Root Causes Of These Conditions?
- Pre-existing Foot Conditions. This could be flat feet (fallen arches) or excessively high arches.
- Shoes That Don’t Fit. Wearing shoes that are not the correct size places undue stress on parts of the feet.
- Obesity. Carrying too much weight puts a continuous strain on the feet, and the muscles and joints that support them.
- Prolonged Periods of Standing and Walking. Too much time on your feet without rest can cause excessive impact, resulting in inflammation and pain.
- Pregnancy. Hormonal changes associated with the normal process of pregnancy can make the ligaments increase in size, and with the additional weight from the growing baby this can lead to painful feet.
What Can You Do To Alleviate Your Foot Pain?
Foot Bath or Soak. You need to fill a basin with warm water and spa salts, and immerse your feet in this solution for 5 to 10 minutes. This acts by removing the stress on your muscles and connective tissues. Try to elevate your feet for at least 30 minutes after the soak.
Stretch your muscles and feet. You know if your muscles are stressed because they contract and develop cramps. Stretch your feet and legs every few minutes. Try not to remain in the same position for long periods of time, such as when you are sitting down in front of the computer instead move around every few minutes or so.
Massage. All parts of your body are interconnected. Rubbing your calves and thighs will not just benefit your feet but your whole body as well. Apply lotion or essential oil and slowly massage working your way from your foot to the ankle and legs. As an alternative you can use a wooden foot massager or roller.
Use Arch Supports. These are shock-absorbing inserts for your shoes, and will decrease the normal impact that your feet experiences when walking. In particular the heel and ball of your feet are prone to soreness, hence the need for full-length arch support.
Wear Open Air Shoes. Try to keep your feet dry and comfortable, especially during hot weather. You can either wear sandals and flip-flops to keep them well ventilated, or use foot powder.
Wear comfortable socks. Some brands of socks are specially designed to keep your feet comfortable and blister-free when you are doing a lot of walking.
Switch Shoes. Sometimes the common sense solution to having sore feet is to change the shoes you are wearing to a more comfortable pair. Throw away worn out shoes – if one show wears out faster than the other this can lead to an imbalance in your posture, and resulting pain in the joints which counteract the imbalance. High heels can also put a lot of pressure on the feet, so switch to a flatter shoe if you notice pain when wearing them.
Treat Wounds and Sores Immediately. Do not leave blisters, cuts and wounds untreated. Serious infections start with simple wounds, and the foot area often provides the perfect breeding ground for infection.
Use Ice Cubes or Ice Pack. Place the ice cubes or ice pack on the area where the foot is sore, and leave it there for 10 to 15 minutes until the swelling dies down.
Use a Foot Stool. Elevate your feet on a footstool for an hour whilst you rest. Take an over the counter pain reliever to sooth the pain.
What If The Pain Doesn’t Go Away?
Finally, if the symptoms increase in frequency and such simple remedies no longer work it might be time to see your podiatrist. Some conditions originate from medical problems like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular diseases. The information given in this article is for your reference only, and is never intended to replace the opinion and advice of a trained medical professional.