Foot pain can occur at many times in your life and range from being just a niggling ache, to shooting and crippling pain with every step. What ever the severity, knowing how to relieve foot pain is important – and it needs to be done sooner rather than later. Prolonged pain in your feet can lead to a longer term condition, which will be harder to fix.
The foot is made from hundreds of bones, ligaments, joints, tissues and tendons. It’s no wonder that the modern lifestyle we lead (exercise and lack of exercise), poor footwear (ladies, I am talking to you) or lack of proper rest can cause problems. Over 60% of us will experience painful feet throughout our lives – so it is important to know how to help reduce the pain when it does strike.
I personally suffer from Plantar Fasciitis. Not a serious problem, but my feet do hurt constantly and when I don’t take the time to ice my feet or stretch my calf muscles, the pain returns.
The tips below are not long term fixes to relieve foot pain. They are designed to help you get a “quick fix” of relief and stop the aching. As with any medical condition, if the pain continues, see a podiatrist or your doctor. There is no substitute for proper medical advice – especially when it comes to something as important as your feet.
Rest first – run later.
The most obvious thing to relieve foot pain is to rest. By reducing the load on your feet, it will give them time to become less sore and begin to heal themselves.
If the pain is really bad, it might be an idea to stay off of your feet for a few days, avoiding excessive walking where possible.
You should also try to avoid adding any extra load on to your feet during your rest time. So no moving furniture around when you get bored!
You might remember the RICE acronym. Rest – Ice – Compression – Elevate, which leads nicely on to the next way to relieve foot pain.
Ice works wonders for sore feet.
Ice is a great healer for sore muscles and feet. Those of us who suffer from Plantar Fasciitis will most likely know the benefits of using ice to help relieve foot pain. However, any sort of foot injury or stress can be helped by applying an ice pack. Even a frozen bottle of water (in a plastic bottle) will be enough to apply to the sole of your foot. You can also apply the ice directly after walking or exercising and before you go to bed.
The best way to apply the ice is to sit in a chair and place your foot onto the ice pack or bottle. You can then move your foot around so that you can get it into the right position, or apply the ice to multiple places.
If the pain is on the top of your foot, try to keep it elevated and then apply the ice by hand to the affected area. Or if you have a willing partner, get them to hold the ice as it can hurt your hands after a while.
If the ice does cause additional pain, stop what you are doing and remove it. You might also find it more comfortable to wrap the ice pack in a towel or cloth, so it does not have direct contact with the skin.
However, for some contrasting opinion on Ice vs Heat, read this article.
Stretching can relieve foot pain.
Depending on your injury, stretching may also help relieve foot pain. If the pain is on the sole of your foot (Plantar Fasciitis again) try sitting with your legs out in front of you. Then, take a towel and wrap it around your foot, pulling back towards yourself to stretch the tissues and calf muscles.
This can also help with hamstring pains too or problems with the Achilles tendon at the back of the foot.
Massage the pain away.
A great and cheap way to massage your heel, sole and arch is to use a tennis ball, You just sit on a chair and roll the ball under your feet, adjusting the pressure as you see fit.
This is good because it is low intensity massage and you can control it to reach the places where the pain is move evident. A tennis ball is ideal because of the size, but similar things will work.
There are also many products available that are knobbly and pointed, to give the massage that extra dimension, but a tennis ball will do just fine unless you think you need something more.
Buy proper shoes.
Wearing the right shoes can be the key to stopping painful feet from getting any worse. The worst type of footwear you could use, is flip-flops. In fact, podiatrists know them as the causes of “flip-flop disease”. Make sure you wear proper shoes with good support. No slouching around in bare feet or shoes with no padding please! Make sure you wear something sensible when recovering from foot pain.
It has been confirmed that women suffer more foot problems than men. 60% to be exact – and the main cause might be bad footwear.
Do you have heel spurs?
Over time, if left untreated, your feet might try to repair the damage – but in a way that causes you more pain. For example, damaged tissues from Plantar Fasciitis can end up becoming detached from your heel. Your body tries to repair this by growing you some extra bone to fill the gap. This ends up being a sharp “spur” which is very painful to walk on. A heel spur is not a cause of foot pain. It is the result of not dealing with foot pain in the first place.
Unless you want to undergo surgery to remove the spur, the only choice you have is to relieve the pressure on that part of your heel. The cheapest way to do this is to buy some off the shelf orthotic inserts. You can get these from most drugstores or shoe shops. The more padded they are, the better.
What you need to do, is to pop them into your shoes, but beforehand, take a pair of scissors and cut a hole where the spur is. This will create a gap where your bone spur can poke through and therefore get less pressure to it. Although this is not ideal, it is a simple way to help treat this annoying form of foot pain. After all, it’s your fault for not addressing it in the first place.
The most sensible advice of all.
If all else fails and the foot pain carries on for a long time, go and see your podiatrist or doctor. Most likely, they will tell you to take something like Paracetamol for the pain and Ibuprofen to help reduce any swelling (which you can get yourself anyway). Alternatively, they might prescribe shots of Cortisone. These injections are given direct to the affected area and can be very good at removing and reducing foot pain.
However, they can be very painful when they are done – so not for those of you who are scared of needles. You might also be asked to wear a night splint too, which will hold your foot in a position overnight where the painful area is stretched. This usually works best for people with Plantar Fasciitis or Tendonitis problems.
So, as you can see, there are a few ways that pains in your feet can be treated, ranging from simple and free to surgical and painful.
Usually, rest, ice and stretching will be enough to reduce your pain. Most foot pain is also temporary, but knowing when to act against it is just as important as what you do.
You may also hear that once you have had a foot problem, you will get it forever. Unfortunately, this is true. Many people suffer the same injury again and again over the years – but knowing what to do each time will help you recover quicker each time.