So let’s talk about your foot and ankle. Is your foot complaining or is it happy with you?
The foot is a part of the body that is constantly overlooked unless it is in pain. One of the most common complaints we get about the foot is mostly pain in and around the arch while walking.
The pain varies in that it can be worse in the morning, mostly because the fascia constricts at night when sleeping. When taking your first step the already inflamed irritated fascia is forced to stretch. Sometimes the pain is present is after sitting for long on standing up.
This kind of pain tends to be around the ball of the foot, the arch and sometimes the heel may be tender. This is due to tenderness or tightness of a ligament like band that runs from your heel to the toes. We call this the plantar fascia. It offers support to the foot and facilitates weight distribution in the foot. So with time, overuse occurs and poor support (in regards to the shoes we wear — very flat shoes) result in inflammation and tightness in this structure.
Weight gain also contributes to such pain because more load is placed on the fascia causing stress.
So what do we do about this kind of pain in your foot or feet?
The best course of action is ice and stretching, especially after a long day. Stretching should be in the morning and during the day before and after any activity to assist in reducing the pain and stiffness.
A stretch that is most common is tying a towel behind your foot and using your hands to pull it toward your body. This stretches out the fascia, the calf muscle and the Achilles tendon. Exercises that target the muscles at the front of the leg are also known to encourage healing and provide support and strength for the foot.
The shoes you wear play a big role as they would protect your arch and help maintain it. Proper shoes that supports your arch and also a heel of about 1 to 2.5 inches both height and width is preferred to a flat shoe.
In severe cases an injection of anaesthetic and steroid into the point of maximal tenderness is administered by a doctor to manage the pain. Physiotherapists also implement physical modalities such as ultrasound that assist in resolving the inflammation of the foot locally.
When in doubt seek the opinion of your physiotherapist or doctor for additional stretches and treatment alternatives.
The writer is Physiotherapist, Chiropractic & Physiotherapy Health Centre.