For Foot Health Awareness Month, our Bowie physical therapists offer some ideas to help you stay active when dealing with foot pain
April 9, 2019
April is Foot Health Awareness Month, which should give us all a chance to look down and give our feet the attention they deserve. The fact is, your feet usually do a pretty good job of supporting your body and getting you where you need to go, and you probably don’t think about them much until they start bothering you. There are plenty of reasons that foot pain might develop, but the end result is often the same: a tougher time getting through the day and staying active. So in honor of Foot Health Awareness Month, our Bowie physical therapists would like to offer you some suggestions to help you remain physically active while dealing with any kind of foot pain
The feet and ankles are built tough, and as the primary component of your foundation, they are capable of sustaining 2-3 times your body weight. But just like every other body part, they have a limit, too. When the feet get overworked or over-trained, or if they aren’t strong or flexible enough to handle the demands we place on them, problems can arise in the form of pain or injury.
Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis are two of the most common painful conditions of the foot, with both mainly affecting the heel. Plantar fasciitis accounts for about 8% of all running injuries and is actually the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is a flat band of tissue that connects your heel bone to the toes, and it serves as a main support for the arch of your foot. But when it becomes irritated or inflamed—from training too hard, wearing unsupportive shoes, or possibly even spending too much time barefoot—plantar fasciitis occurs. This leads to a sharp, stabbing pain at the base of the heel that’s particularly noticeable during the first steps of the morning.
The Achilles tendon—which connects the calf muscle to the back of the heel—is the thickest, strongest, and longest tendon in the body. Achilles tendinitis is the inflammation of this tendon, and it’s most common in runners who do lots of speed training or uphill running, and in those that suddenly increase the intensity or duration of their runs. Pain usually comes on gradually as a mild ache in the back of the leg or above the heel after completing a run, but it may get more severe after long runs, climbing stairs or sprinting. Some individuals also experience tenderness or stiffness, especially in the morning.
The best ways to stay active with foot pain from our Bowie physical therapists
When dealing with either of these injuries, it’s important to avoid putting pressure on the affected foot while giving the body time to heal. Specific stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as pain-relieving treatments delivered by a physical therapist, can all help accelerate this healing process, but many individuals will feel restless during this time and have an itch to stay active. The good news is that it is very possible to keep exercising while the body recovers from these injuries, and our Bowie physical therapists actually recommend it. The main difference is that the best activities are low impact, so as to reduce the strain on your feet. Below are some of the activities we recommend during recovery from foot pain:
- Swimming and other aquatic activities: the lack of impact makes any water-based exercise ideal for painful feet
- Cycling: another low-impact activity that may be considered the perfect alternative to running
- Kayak/stand-up paddling: both are great for improving your upper body strength
- Yoga/Pilates/Tai chi: if necessary, each of these activities can be modified to accommodate your foot pain
- Avoid: any activities that are high-impact or involve jumping or cutting movements, such as basketball, tennis, football, and jogging
Staying away from your normal exercise regimen for an extended period of time can be difficult, but it’s also necessary if you want to return to full strength from your foot pain. Give these alternative forms of exercise a try, and see our Bowie physical therapists for a comprehensive rehabilitation program to further accelerate your recover. Contact CAM Physical Therapy and Wellness Services today at 301-464-7390 to schedule an appointment at any of our four clinics in Glenn Dale/Bowie, Hyattsville, Laurel, or our newest location in Silver Spring, MD, or click here for more information on foot and heel pain.