Perth’s sunny summer is upon us, and D-day for our New Year’s resolutions are fast approaching. This combination of great weather and a newfound motivation for exercising can cause issues for some people. Let’s talk about the many ways you can look after your feet this summer, and things you can do to minimise any discomfort!
Why do we get foot pain?
Our body has an amazing ability to adapt to new stresses we place on it, however, this adaption takes time and requires appropriate loading. With a common New Year’s resolution of increasing our amount of weekly exercise, we may do too much too soon which can overload our bodies. We need to appropriately load our muscles and tendons to keep them strong, healthy and pain free. Some common reasons for foot pain are:
- Unsupportive and poorly fitting shoes, particularly when exercising. Flat shoes decrease the supportive arch on the inside of your foot, which can place stress on the muscles and structures surrounding the foot.
- A sudden spike in workload without proper load management
- Exercising on uneven surfaces such as sand
- Biomechanics – for example, people who have flat feet, reduced strength or mobility
Types of foot pain:
Pain under the foot or in the surrounding tendons of the foot and ankle are common symptoms of non-traumatic foot pain.
Plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation of the band of tissue along the sole of the foot, running from the heel towards the toes (see photo). This issue is commonly associated with pain in the heel, which may move up towards the arch of the foot and can become painful when loaded (stretched) more than normal. People will often experience high levels of pain first thing in the morning, which can often improve with gentle movement or stretching.
Tendon related pain or tendinopathy may present similarly. Tendon tissue can become inflamed or sustain micro-tears, which are often seen in an Achilles tendinopathy. These types of injuries are commonly painful at the start of walking or exercise and decrease as you ‘warm up’. After activity your pain may worsen again. These injuries are typically seen when there has been a change in loading (often through increased walking or exercise) causing increased pressure and force on the structures of your feet.
Because of the nature of these injuries, they can be difficult to manage and will require professional diagnosis and management.
Would I benefit from seeing a physio?
Of course! Physiotherapists are well equipped to help diagnose, manage, and prevent issues we may come across during times like these. Regardless of the reason you have sore feet, physiotherapists can assist in pain management, provide supportive adjustments and postural corrections, as well as advise and demonstrate appropriate load management techniques. Most importantly, your physio can assist in managing exercise/training loads, regardless of your fitness level. Depending on the injury, we can also arrange for imaging or specialist intervention if required.
What should I do to minimise the risk of developing foot pain?
Load management is the most important factor in preventing these sorts of pains. You can do this yourself by slowly increasing your load, aiming to gradually increase the below variables:
- Intensity of exercise (how hard you train)
- Volume of exercise (how long you train)
- Frequency of exercise (how often you train – remember rest days are crucial in injury prevention!)
Make sure your shoes:
- Have a supportive arch
- Fit well and are tied tightly
- Are kept in good condition – for example, not worn out!
Even if you’re not exercising, having shoes with a strong, supportive arch is critical to maintain correct alignment and structure of the foot. In the summer months we are less inclined to wear closed in, supportive footwear and we tend to turn to our trusty thongs.
‘Archies’ provide perfect fitting thongs for these summer days as they are comfortable, supportive and affordable! These can be purchased at Cannington Physiotherapy in a variety of different colours and sizes. Mention this blog to receive 15% off your Archies thongs at reception (conditions apply).