Do You Know What Your Foot Pain Is Trying to Tell You? Is nagging foot pain causing you to skip workouts or avoid going out with friends after a long day at work? While you might think foot pain is simply something women have to put up with in life, think again! There are a host of possible reasons your dogs are barking – here’s what your foot pain might be trying to tell you:
Ditch the Heels
Wearing high heels is one of the most unnatural things a woman can do to her body. Why? Not only does the narrow point of high heels pinch the forefoot and toes into an inclement position, but the heels themselves completely alter your natural gait and pronation (the way you walk). Your hip balance gets thrown off, your lower back is strained, and your ankles become more susceptible to rolling.
The result? Painful and annoying conditions commonly grouped together with the term “crooked toes” – these include bunions, hammer toes, and overlapping or underlapping toes (learn more).
In addition, you may experience muscle strain and painful inflammation from the lower back to the hips, rear, knees, and feet. Youch! A 2015 report found that high heel-related injury rates nearly doubled in the ten years between 2002 and 2012, significantly among younger women in their 20s and 30s. Potential long-term foot damage, deformity, and pain could be in your future if you’re not smart about wearing heels.
Give Your Feet a Massage
A little self-care can go a long way to preventing foot pain and irritation, especially if you’re a busy mom spending all day running around from schools to work, the gym, making dinner, etc. Feet experts recommend washing feet with soap and warm water nightly, and drying them thoroughly to help wash away bacteria, fungi, or contaminants which may have built up.
Then moisturize with a good lotion or cream to help keep skin stay hydrated and supple. Dry, flaky skin on the feet can be more likely to break or blister resulting in painful sores and skin irritation. Even a short 10 minute foot massage can do wonders for foot pain (run your own feet or ask your husband to help!). Massage helps break up scar tissue, boost circulation, and ease inflammation of strained foot tissues like the plantar fascia.
Quit Standing All Day
While spending most of the day sitting down has been shown to have negative health consequences, standing all day can do its own number on your feet. The constant stress and impact on your arch, ankles, and knees can cause mild to moderate aching, inflammation, as well as strain. For women in careers like teaching, nursing, and retail, you don’t particularly have a choice in whether or not you get to stand all day simply because it is required of you.
So what you can do? For women who stand all day and also have foot conditions like flat arches or plantar fasciitis, orthotic insoles can provide the cushioning and support you need to prevent pain at the end of the day – see this article. Wearing supportive footwear that both fits well and doesn’t have excessive heel height can also aid pain that accompanies spending long stretches of time standing up or walking.
If your go-to workout is long distance running and you are noticing increasing foot pain when you take your first steps in the morning or when you finish up a run, it might be time to consider incorporating more cross-training into your schedule. Running’s high impact nature places a ton of stress and strain on the feet, knees, and legs, requiring constant shock absorption and recovery. Cross-training with low-impact activities and sports can give your joints a break from running while still helping you stay in shape.
Moderate intensity cross-training activities for runners may include rowing and kayaking, cycling, hiking, playing golf or tennis, rollerblading, swimming or pool running, and yoga practice. In addition to helping you strengthen and hone less-utilized muscle groups, cross-training adds variety to your workout routine and helps you experience new and exciting aspects of physical fitness.
Don’t ignore your foot pain. Your feet carry you everywhere you go and have a lot to tell you, especially if it is time to change routines or footwear. Even small upgrades to your foot care routine can make a big difference!
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