Most athletes at one point or another encounter foot pain. Foot pain alone can encompass many different diagnosis and options for treatment. As a therapist, one of the things that I see most often is people ignore foot pain, try to 'walk it off' and wind up creating bigger problems, as untreated foot pain will often lead to knee, hip and back pain. What started out as a simple foot issue could take you out of your sport for a long time if left untreated.
This article is not meant to take the place of seeking medical treatment for an accurate diagnosis. But many people, especially runners and those involved in plyometric activities are prone to foot pain. Foot pain can be persistent and difficult to treat because it is often ignored until it becomes a significant issue and other muscles are involved; but also because you walk around every day, inflaming the already painful area. Taking time off of our feet is not an option for most of us. Upon experiencing foot pain performing some of these remedies right away can save you from missing time in your sport.
- Kinesiotaping. Kinesiotaping can help relieve the immediate symptoms of foot pain. It is safe enough to be worn through activities and while walking around.
- Roll a frozen water bottle. Many people underestimate the value of ice. It can save you a lot of pain in the long run. This is the first question I always ask my patients—did you ice? The answer (unless they are a previous patient of mine and were taught) is most often 'no'. Unfortunately sometimes a little bit of ice is all that is needed to reduce the pain and help restore normal activities.
- Massage ball. Running a golf ball, a lacrosse ball, or another firm ball under your foot for 5 minutes each day with medium pressure will help take some of the tension out of your foot that is causing you pain. This should be uncomfortable but not unbearable or overly painful and you should expect some discomfort.
- Foam roll. Foam rolling should be in the plan of everyone who exercises. Foam rolling the muscles above the foot will help loosen the muscles in the bottom of the foot. Most of the muscles that attach on the foot start from up above the ankle. Foam rolling them out will help reduce the pain in the foot and the whole lower leg.
- Stretching the bottom of the foot. This is best achieved barefoot. Stand with your foot close to a wall with your toes touching the wall. Slowly move the foot forward so that the foot stays flat but the toes are up against the wall. Again this should not hurt; it should be a gentle stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 6 times. Do this multiple times throughout the day.
- Change your footwear. One of the easiest things to do but the one thing people like doing the least is changing footwear. Flip flops, bare feet and high heels can be the cause and perpetuation of foot pain. Wearing supportive shoes, like sneakers, will allow the foot to have cushion and proper support, which will help alleviate pain.
The sooner you begin to acknowledge and treat any pain or discomfort the sooner it will begin to heal. Ignoring the pain does nothing but make the road to recovery longer.