You’re a few weeks into your New Year’s Resolution to walk or run, but you have noticed your feet have started to hurt. Assuming it was because you were doing something new, you keep going- this is the year! But now when you wake up in the morning and step on the floor you have sharp pain. It even takes you a few steps before you can walk somewhat normally. You don’t want to stop exercising, but this pain is making you miserable. Why is this happening and what can you do?
Foot pain can be caused by several things, but many times if you develop foot or heel pain after initiating a new exercise program it is because you have developed plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammatory process of the plantar fascia which is a thick, connective tissue that runs from the heel to the toes. Pain from plantar fasciitis can be located at the heel or in the arch of the foot and typically occurs with the first few steps in the morning or going to walk after a long period of sitting.
To treat plantar fasciitis you must stretch the plantar fascia and your Achilles tendon. To stretch your plantar fascia, place your fingers at the base of your toes, pull your toes back towards your shin until you feel a stretch in your arch. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
To stretch your Achilles tendon, place a belt around the ball of your foot with your knee straight. Pull your foot towards your shin, you should feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Repeat the same stretch with your knee slightly bent to isolate your deeper calf muscle the soleus. Repeat all 3 of these stretches 3 times per day. Stretching will improve the flexibility of the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia and decrease your pain at your heel.
You should also use ice to decrease the inflammation of the plantar fascia. Fill up a water bottle, freeze it, and then roll it from the ball of your foot to your heel for 8 minutes. The cold from the ice will help decrease the inflammation and rolling your foot on the bottle will help stretch out the plantar fascia. Additionally, you might find some relief in your day-to-day life by wearing specialized insoles (that can be purchased on Tread Labs or similar online stores) while wearing shoes in order to make walking a little more comfortable.
If you continue to have pain after stretching consistently for a week or more, see your Physical Therapist for treatment. A Physical Therapist will evaluate your foot and develop a treatment plan that may include soft tissue mobilization, manual stretching, therapeutic exercises, and modalities to decrease your pain and keep you walking or running so you can keep your New Year’s Resolutions!
Contact us if you have any questions!