Foot pain and issues are so prevalent that we have an entire medical profession just for dealing with foot pain. We have created multi-billion-dollar industries for shoes, insoles, and orthotics, just to stop our pain. What is sad is, none of that is working very well. Sure, if you wear the insoles forever the pain will be reduced, but you can never walk barefoot and feel the grass or dirt. Believe or not, touching the earth with your feet has some healing qualities. In this article we will discuss foot pain that includes bunions, sore arches, heel pain, and pain on the outside of the foot.
What is Causing the Foot Pain?
Let’s begin with the arch as that is one of the two most common complaints along with the heel. The arch is an important muscle of the foot as it takes on the impact of your body weight hitting the ground. The foot consists of 29 muscles, 26 bones, and 33 articulations. The foot is the key to your ability to balance along with the calf. The arch needs to be as soft as the palm of your hand. feel the palm of your hand, then feel the arch of your foot. If the arch is hard or sore, could you imagine if your hand felt the same. Your hands would be useless and so are your feet. Each night you should massage the tops and the bottoms of your feet to allow them to spread as you step down on them for better balance. Do not force it with frozen bottles, hard rollers, or hard balls. If you cannot reach them with your hand, use a golf ball. I know it is hard, but I want you to just your foot down on it gently while sitting down. When you find a sore spot, breathe out, and let it release. Then move to the next spot.
Things like bunions, heel pain, outside of the foot pain have more to do with the calves or the hips. People with bunions typically walk with their feet splayed out. They will push off with the inside of the big toe and usually have a callus on the side of the big toe. What is happening is the rotating muscles in the hip have locked into external rotation. This is usually caused by either habit of walking or pointy-toed shoes. Since you cannot push off the toes with pointy-toed shoes, the wearer must turn their foot outward to find a surface to push off of. This also makes the wearer to walk with their thighs instead of the foot which can lead to low back pain. Ever wonder why women wearing high heels have sore feet and back pain? Cowboy boots do the same for men.
Heel pain and pain on the outside, or inside, of the foot usually comes from the calf. You have 4 calf muscles that cause the foot to move vertically, laterally, and rotationally. For example, if the outside calf muscle is short, you will walk on the inside of the foot. if the inside calf muscle is short, you will walk on the outside of the foot. this can lead to bruising of those areas leading to pain. When the calves are too tight to move well vertically, when you step down, the pain increases at the heel. Heel cups, boots, braces, and injections are just temporary fixes. Until you learn how to stretch all four muscles, the pain will come back.
Rotationally, the calves can lead to back pain and foot pain if you play golf or tennis. The calf area has 2 bones with muscles in-between them and on the outside of them. Every rotational move begins in the calves. Softening of the calves with self-massage techniques and stretching daily is a must to improve your rotation.
Improve your Balance
Most people as they age find their balance is not as good as it used to be. I find that the shoes we are told to wear contribute a lot to the balance issue. The other is the lack of knowledge and importance of calf stretching and softening your feet. Once you get more freedom of movement, now is time to strengthen the calves and feet to re-gain your balance.
Knee problems can be result of tight calves. When trying to rotate your body with tight calves increases the torque on the knee and hip causing both to wear out early. Getting your feet and calves working better can improve your mobility and lessen your risk of falling. Below are 2 stretches that can help you make that change. I know I have sent you calf stretches in the past, please go back and review how to do that. Today, I will give you foot stretches.
Stretching is more about feeling the muscles letting go than forcing them to stretch. If you are forcing the muscle, you are doing the equivalent of strength training, not stretching. Make sure you are feeling the intended muscle stretching. If not, the form could be wrong. Holding for 5 seconds allows the brain to release the muscle before it senses any danger. Repeating the stretches 10 times allows the brain to learn it is safe for the muscle to move that way.
Don’t forget the Tennis Ball Massage!
Softening your hips and back is easy when you sue the tennis ball. Just lean against the wall and apply enough pressure to feel the painful area. The temptation is to press harder but resist it. Instead, breathe out and allow the muscle to soften under the ball. Then move to another spot and repeat. I remember doing this at the Tampa Airport when a woman approached me to ask what i was doing. When I told her she ask if she could try. Then 2 other people came over and did it too. We had a good time, but I had to hide to soften my own body without interruption.
Learn About Stretching
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About The Muscle Repair Shop
Drawing upon his personal experience as a former competitive athlete turned wheelchair, obese and chronic pain sufferer, Muscle Repair Shop Founder Butch Phelps decided to take his health into his own hands when at the age of 36 he was told he might not make it to his 40th birthday. Applying balanced nutrition advice from his doctor along with a sound exercise program, he went from 315 lbs. to 180 lbs. Motivated by his experience, he then acquired degrees in advanced therapeutic massage and aging sciences to help people eliminate chronic pain. This included applying his expertise in how people age, including the effects of dementia, anatomy, psychology, and the day-to-day struggles living as an older person to his practice and development of The Muscle Repair Shop’s one-of-a-kind Stretch n’ Release Technique.
Available through in-office and virtual coaching treatment sessions, this unique combination of stretching and breath work teaches the brain to release the emotional side of muscle tension and pain allows clients to find lasting relief and healing from stiffness, aches, injuries, and chronic pain. The at-home exercises come with customized instructional videos and virtual or in-office support, allowing clients to enjoy and experience life and sports as they did before limitations slowed or curtailed activities.