So you are getting a bit older and your feet are starting to bother you. Perhaps a just a little bit, then as you walk a longer distance or a bit faster, you notice that your feet bother you a bit more. Your feet may not bother you right after you exercise maybe a little later in the day or it may be first thing the next morning. Either way, the ache is getting more frequent, then a bit more intense or it starts aching more during your activities and then develops into outright pain that starts to interfere with your daily activities. Obviously the best way to deal with this problem would have been to prevent it, but now how to deal with it? Your physician may diagnose you with plantar fasciitis, heel spur or tendonitis. After you’ve ruled out a more significant medical problem, these steps may be able to help.
First – Footwear – make sure you have properly fitting footwear. Very frequently clients have footwear that is too short for them. (Hint: if you are a tall person, you should typically have long feet – not short, wide feet.) Find a knowledgeable person to actually measure your foot (there aren’t too many of them anymore).
Second – Epsom salt foot baths with foot massage – This is a great addition before exercising as it can increase blood flow to the bottom of the foot in preparation for stretching. Soaking both feet in a small basin filled with warm water and dissolved Epsom salt (about ¼ – ½ cup is usually enough) for 20 minutes. Take one foot out, dry it and then roll the bottom of the foot over a nubby ball, golf ball or simply massage the bottom of your foot. I like the reflexology ball (see picture) as it provides a lot of stimulation.
Third – Stretching – Typically the “heel cord stretch” is used to deal with a shortened heel cord (gastrocnemius muscle and tendon), which can be the result of wearing high heels, injury or postural patterns (to name just a few of the causes).
This exercise is done by standing facing a wall – about12 inches away. Put your hands on the wall comfortably. Keeping both feet flat, step your left foot back (pictured), lengthening your left leg and straightening your arms. You should feel the stretch in the calf of the back (straight) leg. Keep the knee straight and heel on the floor for the back (left) leg. Your foot should be in a straight aligned position (toes in front of heel, not turned out to side).This is the leg you are stretching. The farther you slide your straight leg behind you, the deeper you will feel this stretch. Breathe deeply and hold for 10-30 seconds. Switch sides.
Fourth – See a physical therapist. If the above suggestions do not help to alleviate the symptoms completely, it may be time to see a physical therapist who can evaluate you individually. In this way an treatment plan can be developed especially for you. Then you will be on your way back to pain free activities.