Exercises that can Help with Foot Pain and Loss of Foot Flexibility
Walking (and being able to walk) is something that we all take for granted. We walk to get from point A to point B, to exercise, or just because it's a nice day out. But what if walking caused pain in your feet? Or became difficult because of tightness in your feet and ankles? Poor foot health can lead to a cascade of problems up the kinetic chain, so it's important to take care of them!
This post will outline some exercises you can do at home to improve foot pain and flexibility. But, we will take a look first at what causes foot pain and loss of flexibility. Keep reading for more information!
What causes foot pain and loss of flexibility
Foot pain can often be caused by a variety of things, from improper footwear to arthritis. It is essential to understand the cause of your foot pain in order to treat it properly.
1. Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain and occurs when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed. A plantar fascia is a group of tissue that connects your forefoot to your heel bone, creating stability for the foot. This injury can be due to several factors, but primarily improper footwear or overuse.
2. Morton's neuroma
Morton's neuroma is another common cause of foot pain that occurs when a nerve on the ball of your foot becomes compressed. This can often be caused by excessive walking or wearing shoes with inadequate arch support. The symptoms include pain, numbness, and tingling in the area between your third and fourth toes.
3. Achilles tendonitis
Achilles tendinitis is an injury to the Achilles tendon that causes inflammation of this thick band of tissue found at the back of your ankle. It becomes inflamed due to overuse or sudden increases in activity level. If you're not careful, this can become a serious injury that requires surgery.
A bunion is a type of deformity of the big toe joint that causes it to point towards the other toes. Bunions are often caused by an abnormal growth of bone or wearing tight shoes that put pressure on your toes. It can be painful, causing discomfort around your big toe and along the side of your foot.
Hammertoe is a deformity of your second, third, or fourth toe where it bends at the middle joint. This can be painful and cause difficulty wearing shoes. If you continue to wear shoes while the condition worsens, you may require surgery.
6. Ingrown toenails
Ingrown toenails are very common. They happen when the toenail grows into the skin of the toe. Ingrown nails can cause pain, swelling, redness, and discomfort walking. If you have an ingrowing toenail, it is vital that you avoid wearing shoes that put pressure on that area of your foot until it has completely healed.
7. Foot Arthritis
Foot arthritis is a widespread ailment that causes stiffness, swelling, or pain in your feet. Often, it occurs as people get older and begin to experience the painful effects of ageing on their bodies. It can be challenging to walk, and there may be a loud clicking noise when you put pressure on your foot.
8. Pes Cavus (Claw foot)
Pes cavus or claw foot is a deformity of the foot where the arch is abnormally high and stiffened muscles cause an abnormal walking pattern. This condition most often occurs along with hammertoe, bunions, and claw toe deformities. Individuals suffering from pes cavus often have difficulty wearing shoes because they don't fit properly over the deformed joints of the foot. If you have any of these symptoms, you are more likely to suffer from foot pain and loss of flexibility.
Gout is a form of arthritis (inflammation of the joints) that occurs when there are excessive amounts of uric acid in your body. This can lead to painful swelling, tenderness, and stiffness in the joints of your foot. If you suffer from excessive uric acid levels, your doctor may prescribe medication to manage the condition.
10. Ankle Sprain
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries that occur in sports and can also be caused by stepping off an elevated surface. If you sprain your ankle, it is important to rest, elevate, and apply ice to reduce swelling. Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may also help manage the pain. However, if you continue to experience intense pain, tingling, numbness, or stiffness after several days, you should visit your doctor immediately, as this could be a sign of something more serious like a broken bone.
11. Toe injuries
Toes are very delicate and susceptible to injury, particularly from trauma like dropping heavy objects on them or stubbing your toe! Other less common causes include:
- Ganglion cysts (which form when fluid collects in a joint).
- Fractures in the small bones of the feet.
- Dupuytren's contracture (where one or more fingers get stuck in a bent position).
If you experience foot pain that becomes with movement such as walking or is accompanied by swelling or redness, you should seek medical attention to avoid serious damage that could result from walking on a broken bone.
12. Stress Fracture
Stress fractures can often occur when people increase their activity level too quickly or don't take the time to properly train themselves for strenuous running or jumping workouts. If you suddenly increase the amount of time that you spend running, jumping, or participating in high-impact exercises like aerobics, it may cause stress fractures in your foot bones.
What are some good overall foot exercises?
The best general overall foot exercises include the following: toe touches, seated toe touches, standing calf raises, high knees drills (running in place), curtsy lunges (side leg lifts), side leg lifts (standing), heel walks (walking heel to toe), wall sits (sitting with the backs of your thighs pressed against a flat surface like a wall). Try doing these days, and it will help strengthen all the muscles in your feet!
Exercises that can help with foot pain and loss of foot flexibility
If you are suffering from one or more of the above ailments, the following exercises will help improve your foot health. If you are currently being treated by a podiatrist or a doctor for any injuries discussed in this post, please consult your professional medical caregiver before trying any home remedies. Here is our list of 7 exercises that can help improve foot flexibility and relieve pain:
- Plantar Fasciitis Stretch
This stretch helps relieve plantar fasciitis while also elongating the calves muscles, which support your arches. It is important to maintain proper alignment while performing this stretch so to achieve the best results.
- Calf Stretch
The calf stretch is great for improving foot flexibility and working out any kinks in the muscles around the ankle. By stretching your calves, you decrease strain throughout your lower body, which can help prevent pain in other areas like the Achilles tendon or knees.
- Toe Stretches
There are several different toes stretches that target different muscle groups that contribute to foot problems like plantar fasciitis, neuromas, hammertoes, and bunions/claw toes. Make sure to do each stretch for 30 seconds on both sides of your foot for the best results! The towel roll is a great exercise for targeting poor circulation in your feet caused by bunions or neuromas.
- Heel Stretch
The heel stretch is great for improving foot flexibility and working out any kinks in the muscles around your ankles, as well as strengthening your calves. By stretching your Achilles' tendons, you decrease strain throughout your lower body, which can help prevent pain in other areas like the knees or toes.
- Standing Toe Raises
If you have a job where you are standing all day long, it is important to stretch out your feet periodically so that they don't become stiff from a lack of movement. The standing toe raise is great for targeting the muscles of the foot with minimal strain on the rest of your body. By maintaining proper alignment while performing this exercise, you ensure that the stress is being placed on the right muscle groups while avoiding other injuries that could result from incorrect body placement.
- Seated Toe Raises
The seated toe raise is a great exercise for improving your overall foot flexibility and alleviating foot pain because it targets the muscles of your feet in a relaxed position with minimal strain on other areas of the body. This stretch is similar to the standing toe raise but provides more relaxation for the muscles since you are sitting down instead of standing up. By maintaining proper alignment while performing this exercise, you ensure that the stress is being placed on the right muscle groups while avoiding other injuries that could result from incorrect body placement.
- Modified Pigeon Pose
The modified pigeon pose helps to stretch out and decompress the hip joint and lower back, which is helpful for relieving pain in your feet that has been connected to these areas. This exercise also helps stretch out some of the muscles of the groin and inner thighs, which can relieve discomfort caused by sciatica.
- Yoga Sun Salutation
The yoga sun salutation is a great warm-up exercise that can be done before any physical activity or workout to help prevent injuries and build strength throughout your body. This sequence of stretches is designed to relax the muscles, increase flexibility, and prepare you for your day by increasing metabolism and blood flow. By maintaining proper alignment while performing this stretch, you reduce the risk of injury, pain, or straining sensitive areas of your feet.
- Triangle Pose
The triangle pose allows you to stretch out the hamstrings, hips, and groin while also providing a light massage for your feet. This exercise is great for relieving pain in the lower body that may have been connected to these areas. By keeping your back leg straight, you can get a deeper stretch of the hamstring muscles, which run from the bottom of your buttocks all the way down to just above your heel. By maintaining proper alignment throughout this stretch, you will reduce strain on sensitive areas of your feet and ankles while avoiding injury.
- Bridge Pose
The bridge pose is excellent for relieving discomfort or pain in your feet because it stretches out the muscles around the ankle, calf, and knee. This exercise also helps to strengthen your heels and lower legs by providing resistance throughout these muscle groups. By maintaining proper alignment while performing this stretch, you reduce strain on other areas of your body that could result from incorrect positioning.
- Downward Facing Dog
The downward-facing dog is a great stretch for your feet because it helps to strengthen the arches of your feet while also stretching out the calves, hamstrings, and groins. This pose is more demanding than some of the others since you are holding yourself up on your hands instead of having them resting on the floor. By maintaining proper alignment while performing this stretch, you reduce strain throughout your body that could result from incorrect positioning.
- Half Forward Fold
This exercise stretches out and relaxes many areas of both your upper and lower body, including the ankles, toes, calves, thighs, groin area, hips and lower back. It can provide pain relief in these areas by relieving tension and stress, which may have been causing discomfort. By maintaining proper alignment throughout this stretch, you reduce the risk of injury or straining other areas of your body.
- Seated Forward Fold
The seated forward fold is a great exercise for stretching out and relaxing all areas of your lower body, including your feet, ankles, calves, thighs, groin area, hips, and lower back. This pose does not require any additional balance or strength like some of the others do but provides similar benefits by relieving pain in these areas by relieving tension and stress. By maintaining proper alignment while performing this exercise, you reduce tension on sensitive areas of your feet while avoiding injuries that could result from holding the pose incorrectly.
- Seated Toe Touch
The seated toe touch stretches out the ankles, toes, and calves while also providing a light massage for your feet. After a long day of being on your feet, this stretch can provide some pain relief by relieving tension in these areas. By keeping your back straight, you can get a deeper stretch at the back of the leg that runs from just below your knee to just above your heel. By maintaining proper alignment throughout this stretch, you reduce strain on other areas of your body as well as avoid injury or straining sensitive areas such as those found in and around the ankle.
- Child's Pose
There are several benefits associated with performing the child's pose, including improving flexibility, increasing blood flow to the affected area, and relieving pain and discomfort. You can perform this exercise by positioning yourself in a resting position on the floor with your knees spread apart, and chest pushed forward. After completing this stretch, you should return to a standing position while maintaining your back in proper alignment to avoid strain or injury throughout other areas of the body, such as the lower back.
In order to achieve long-term relief from foot pains, it is important to make a conscious effort to incorporate some type of daily foot stretch into your life on a regular basis. These seven exercises are highly effective at relieving common ailments that men and women suffer from with their feet every day! Don't let pain hold you back! By adding these stretches into your daily routine, you can continue to do the things that you enjoy without giving up because of foot pain.
Stretching on a regular basis can help prevent injuries like plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, Achilles tendonitis, neuromas, bunions/claw toes, and hammertoes. You should choose exercises that you enjoy or feel comfortable with because you will be more likely to sustain a long-term stretching practice if it is fun and stress-free!
What are the benefits of stretching?
Regular stretching has been shown to help with overall flexibility, improve circulation throughout your body, increase energy levels that can lead to an increase in productivity during work or play, provide relief from many common ailments such as headaches and backaches, reduce stress which leads to a reduction of mental strain and fatigue. Regularly performing stretches also gives you control over your own health by empowering you to take action towards leading a healthier lifestyle!
How often should I stretch?
The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends completing dynamic stretches prior to any exercise regimen, including yoga, for maximum results. They advise people should hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds while maintaining proper form before repeating 2-4 times on both sides of the body. You should also take approximately 30 seconds between each stretch. This should be completed twice a day for best results.
They recommend static stretches be done after exercise or any activity that has you on your feet for an extended period of time. This should be completed one to two times a day, with each stretch held for 15-30 seconds before repeating no more than three times.
If you have any questions about what stretches would be most beneficial for your specific foot situation, please consult your doctor before beginning any new workout routine.
Exercise Tips to Prevent Injury
-All stretches should be performed slowly and with caution; never bounce or force the stretch! It is very important that your stretching exercises are slow to moderate in speed (3-5 seconds) because this will help facilitate the lengthening of your muscles over time.
-Do not strengthen foot muscles by cutting corners when performing toe raises; always keep feet flat, use the heel of both feet in the same stance at all times!
-Incorporate a variety of different stretches into your daily routine for best results - change up your workouts every day, so you don't get bored with doing the same thing every day. You can perform these stretches while watching TV if it helps to take your mind off of how much time you're spending stretching.
-Use a heating pad or warm water bottle on your foot to relax the muscles before you begin your workout.
-If possible, try to perform all of these exercises barefoot for the best results! However, if you are unable to do this due to personal preference or other factors, there are also specific socks that can help provide extra cushioning and support for your feet while completing these stretches.
-Moisturize your feet with lotion after you have completed your workout to keep them soft, smooth, and healthy!
-Be sure to wear comfortable athletic shoes that fit properly to support the muscles in your feet when completing common tasks such as jogging, dancing, biking/exercising at home, etc.
-If you wear high heels, try to limit the amount of time spent wearing them, and if possible, utilize platform shoes with wide toe boxes when standing for long periods of time.
-Always avoid wearing tight-fitting socks or stockings because they can cause pressure on your feet by restricting blood flow and eliminating necessary padding in your shoes.
-If you suffer from foot pain after a workout/a long day at work, apply ice to the area that is painful and rest it as much as possible before continuing any strenuous activities such as jogging or yoga!
Before doing any of the tips or exercises above, it is important to consult your doctor first so they can determine whether or not you are healthy enough to do that certain stretch or exercise safely. It is also advisable to talk with your doctor if any of the following exist:
-If you experience any pain when performing these stretches
-You have diabetes, poor circulation, or another medical condition that may inhibit blood flow/cause nerve damage
-You are pregnant and/or breastfeeding (some exercises may be dangerous for women in this condition)
-If you suffer from foot deformities such as bunions, hammertoes, flat feet, etc. (in which case some of these exercises may exacerbate your condition)
-Difficulty standing for long periods of time
-Difficulty walking/running/jogging for extended periods of time
-Experience foot pain while completing the stretches above after a few repetitions!
We hope you get relief from the stretches and exercises above. Send us a message if these tips helped you or if you have any other suggestions for people with foot pain, plantar fasciitis, or other foot injuries!