Q: What is causing pain on the inside of my foot?
A: Pain on the inside of the foot is a common problem, and finding the reason behind the cause of the pain is important.
When we talk about the inside of the foot, we are often talking about the arch. Left untreated, pain in the arch could progress into pain along the inside of the leg. There is also the bottom of the foot, where pain is most likely originating from the plantar fascia, the ligament that connects your heel to the front of your foot.
Both pain sources can be treated the same way, but it is important to determine exactly where pain is coming from and why.
The first thing you need to fix is your footwear — or lack thereof.
You should never walk barefoot. From the time you wake up until the time you go to bed you should be wearing a supportive sneaker. When you walk barefoot, or in unsupportive flat shoes such as flip flops, every time your foot hits the ground it stretches out the muscles that you are trying to keep from being inflamed. If you do not have support for the bottom of your foot, such as that provided by a sneaker, then you cannot allow the muscles to heal.
Next, you want to determine where the pain is coming from by giving yourself this quick and simple test. Take your fingers and touch the inside of the arch of the foot, working your way up the leg to the knee, then moving back down to the bottom of the foot. If you feel tenderness on the muscles that is an indication that the muscle is inflamed. The farther up the leg the inflammation goes, the worse the problem is and needs to be addressed.
It is important to note that just because the inside of the foot is where you feel the pain, that does not mean that is where the problem is. The cause of the pain could be weakness in the hips or tightness in other muscles. Just treating the pain in the inside of the foot will be a temporary fix but it will not permanently solve the problem.
To address foot pain, start by applying an ice pack or a bag of peas to the bottom of the foot for about 15 minutes a day. (Preferably at the end of the day to help decrease the inflammation.)
Next, you want to try myofascial release, a massage technique that involves applying gentle, sustained pressure to connective tissue to help the muscles return to their normal state. Take a golf ball or a lacrosse ball and use it to press along the bottom of your foot and up into the leg. Aim for 5 to 10 minutes a day.
If your foot pain does not improve after two weeks, consider seeing a physical therapist for additional support.
Heather Moore is the owner of Total Performance Physical Therapy in North Wales, Norristown and Hatfield, Pa.