Foot pain is a common condition affecting people of all ages throughout the lifespan. It can affect one in three adults over the age of 65. It can also affect younger populations, especially youth athletes participating in run-dominant and high-impact sports.
Those in the workforce are also susceptible to acquiring conditions of the foot and ankle. This is especially prevalent in those standing or walking around all day. Some of the more common subgroups we see at HNH Fitness are hospital personnel, grocery and retail store employees, and construction workers.
Another major group we often see are those participating in walking and running programs. This is especially true for those starting a new program for the first time, or those who are significantly increasing their volume of load-bearing activities. This may even include persons performing high-intensity interval programs at home, especially when the routine calls for high volumes of explosive jumping and landing activities.
However, like most orthopedic conditions, foot pain can be prevented through proper exercise selection and evidence-based education.
Core of the Foot, Exercises, and Stretches
First, let us go over how to activate the “core” of the foot, followed by preventative strength- building exercises and stretches to keep you pounding the pavement injury-free.
Next, try this simple modification to the common calf stretch to make it more effective, while also protecting key structures in your foot.
Finally, finish by performing these five strengthening and stability exercises to help improve your ability to absorb high-impact forces.
Footwear and Orthotic Shoe Inserts
It is often recommended to change and upgrade your footwear every three to six months, depending on your level of activity. If you can, try to alternate wearing different shoes or sneakers every day so that your feet do not get used to one specific pair. I also instruct my patients to check the inserts in their shoes and sneakers. Most sneakers, including expensive brands, come with a very thin, unsupportive insert. I normally recommend patients start by purchasing a simple and inexpensive over-the-counter insert that has a thick and semi-firm heel pad, as well as arch support. In most cases, the insert should be comfortable the moment you slip your foot into your shoe. However, in some instances it may take one to two weeks for your feet to adjust. Finally, try to update your inserts every time you purchase a new pair of shoes, as inserts also have a shelf life.
Foot pain can be a difficult condition to treat. If you have been dealing with foot pain for a long time, and nothing you have been doing in the past has been helping, then it might be a good idea to be evaluated by a physical therapist. If you are uncomfortable going to a PT clinic in person, take advantage of telehealth services. I am pleasantly surprised at how useful these virtual sessions have been, as I have observed many patients managing their symptoms and pain levels with custom home-exercise programs, and preventing their conditions from getting worse through simple modifications.
Christopher J. Cordero, PT, DPT, OCS, is a physical therapist and board-certified specialist in orthopedic physical therapy by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Dr. Cordero practices at HNH Fitness and also runs the Sports Performance Academy, training athletes of all ages with a focus on implementing evidence-based injury prevention techniques and developing proper body mechanics. Dr. Cordero finds passion in the clinical and educational aspects of physical therapy, using manual orthopedic techniques and exercise to help patients regain function in their lives.
Dr. Cordero can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HNH Fitness | 514 Kinderkamack Road | Oradell, NJ | 07649