How To Gear Up And Avoid Foot Pain | Gage Physical Therapy
Valerie van Woudenberg Health Tips

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How To Gear Up And Avoid Foot Pain

Gearing up to get rid of foot pain

Is getting fitter high up on your list of goals for 2022…

but you’re worried that foot pain will stop you from achieving them?

Perhaps you started 2022 feeling geared up, motivated, and fully committed to losing weight and getting healthier. Hence, you started walking outdoors every day. But foot pain forced you to give up after just a few weeks because the searing pain on the underside, upper side or soles of your feet made it impossible.

Don’t worry.

We know how it is. We see patients with foot problems all the time at the Gage Physiotherapy & Foot Clinic. Feet and finding the root cause of foot and ankle pain is one of our special interests. Your feet are in safe hands. 

We know you don’t lack the willpower to hit your goals and make the most of 2022. You can do it – you just need some help to enable you to walk and exercise pain-free, right? 

Well, let’s get to it and make 2022 your year. 

What Causes Foot Pain?

Foot pain

The possible list of causes of foot and ankle pain is vast and impossible to diagnose over the internet. If you have foot pain that interferes with your everyday life and prevents you from moving and exercising, we urge you to book an appointment with a physio right away for a professional evaluation.

Where do you feel the pain?

In the heel?

heel pain

The cause of pain in your heel is usually excessive exercise or ill-fitting shoes. But the specific symptoms you feel could provide further clues as to what is causing your foot pain.

For instance, if you struggle to lift your toes and feel pain in the arch of your foot and your heel – and it worsens when walking, then the cause of your foot pain could be Plantar Fasciitis.

If your heel pain is accompanied by ankle pain and pain in your calf when you “stand on your tiptoes,” it could be a problem with your Achilles tendon, like Achilles tendonitis.

If your heel pain is sharp and sudden and you’re struggling to walk after an accident or injury, then you may have ruptured your Achilles tendon or fractured the bone in your heel.

Dull pain, redness and inflammation around your feet could indicate that the cause of your foot pain is bursitis.

In the ball of your foot?

If you feel pain in the flat area of your foot that remains on the floor when you raise your heel, the “ball of your foot,” there are four leading causes for this type of foot pain, including:

      • Bunions – a hard lump on or around your big toe
      • Morton’s Neuroma – sharp and intense pains around the toes and the ball of your foot that may also feel like there is a tiny pebble in your shoes or underneath your foot.
      • A Metatarsal Sprain – pain inflammation, and possible bruising are most likely to come on after running or another form of intensive exercise.
      • A form of foot “-itis” (Bursitis or Arthritis) – red patch on the skin accompanied by inflammation and deep aching pain.  

In the sole of your foot? If you feel pain on the underside of your foot, like heel and ball of the foot pain, it could be due to Morton’s Neuroma or Plantar Fasciitis, but some of the other reasons for pain on the bottom of the foot are:

  • A fallen arch(es) – where there is no natural gap between your foot and the floor when you’re standing up.
  • An injury – most likely a sprain, pain on the bottom of your foot accompanied by other symptoms like bruising and swelling indicates an injured muscle or ligament in the foot. 

In the top of your foot? If you feel pain on the upper side of your foot – where the bones of the feet run from your ankle to your toes – this type of pain could be due to:

top of foot pain

  • Tendonitis – this condition, which is caused by a swollen tendon in the foot or ankle, can present with various symptoms. Still, one of the most obvious is that your foot will be “tender” to touch around the injured tendon. There may also be stiffness, pain and difficulty moving or rotating your foot and ankle.
  • Osteoarthritis – another common cause of pain in the top of the foot is osteoarthritis. This condition also presents with stiffness and pain, but also (sometimes) cracking or grinding when you move the bones of your foot. There is likely to be inflammation too. 
  • Stress Fracture – the (metatarsal) bones of the feet that run across the top of your feet from your ankle joint and connect to your toes are susceptible to stress fractures. Especially if you’re a runner with a stress fracture, you might see bruising and swelling on the top of your foot, along with worsening pain with activity. 

In your toes? If you feel pain in one or more of your toes, broken bones are the first thing to rule out. If you’ve broken a toe, it will be difficult to walk, and you’ll probably see redness and swelling around the affected toe. Doctors usually advise treating broken toes at home with anti-inflammatory medication, ice, and rest. However, we recommend you book an appointment with a physiotherapist to ensure your toe heals well without any future problems. Other causes of pain in the toes include:

  • An ingrown toenail – you will usually be able to spot an ingrown toenail quite quickly because it’ll be painful when you press on the edge of the toe around the nail. You might even be able to see the toenail curving into the skin. The skin around the toenail is also likely to be red and sometimes feel warm to the touch if an infection is present. Do not try to treat an ingrown toenail at home. Instead, consult a podiatrist or foot specialist.  
  • Gout – if you suddenly start to feel sharp pain and stiffness in your toes along with redness around the toe joints, your foot pain may be due to a condition called gout. But you should always consult your family physician or foot specialist to confirm this diagnosis. The high levels of uric acid that cause gout can also lead to kidney stones. 

How To Avoid Foot Pain

physical therapy for foot pain

If you have foot pain now, we recommend you book an appointment to see a foot at our Foot Clinic in Hamilton. All new patients qualify for a free, 30-minute appointment. You can reserve yours here. But if you’d just like to know how to avoid foot pain in the future, so you can gear up, “hit the ground running,” and smash all your goals for 2022, here are our top tips: 

  1. Stretch your calf muscles – this might sound strange to suggest stretching your calves to avoid foot pain, but overly tight calves put extra pressure on the balls of your feet that can lead to foot pain. This problem can worsen with age, so it’s advisable to keep your calf muscles strong, flexible, and healthy to prevent problems with your feet later in life. Try and incorporate some calf raises into your daily routine. You don’t need any fancy equipment, just use your stairs at home. Place most of your feet on the step – with just your heels hanging over the edge at the back. Dip your heels down until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your calf muscle. Start slow with one or two repetitions, then work up to around 5-10 repetitions. If you feel pain, stop, and consult a physiotherapist.
  2. Ditch the high-heels and wear comfortable footwear – high heels are one of the worst offenders for causing foot pain because of the unnatural position your foot has to adapt to inside the shoe. However, shoes don’t need to have heels to cause foot pain. If your shoes don’t fit properly or provide ample support for your foot and ankle, it can result in foot pain that can potentially cause long-term problems with your feet. Invest in good-quality shoes and have your feet professionally measured to avoid foot pain.
  3. Take a load off – If you work in a job that requires you to be on your feet all day, cut your feet some slack by sitting down wherever possible. Of course, we all know that a sedentary lifestyle and sitting down too much is bad for our health. Still, for foot health, we need to make sure that we’re not doing too much, or at the very least, we’re allowing our feet some rest and recuperation time.

It’s Time To Act

Does any of this sound familiar, or are you concerned you may encounter something like this?

Get in touch with us now and we can give you the answers to any questions that you have. The quicker you act, the quicker we can help.

Whether you’re experiencing pain now, or you’re worried about future pain please don’t hesitate.


Valerie Van Woudenberg

Valerie Van Woudenberg

Valerie is a Physiotherapist and owner of Gage Physiotherapy and Foot Clinic . She believes that in order to take care of yourself, a holistic approach to treatment is required. She does this by looking at the whole person and assessing the biology, psychology and social elements that surround a person. Each element creates a unique dimension to the individual and affects how we function and respond to pain. Valerie focuses on helping people who desire to stay mobile and independent and have been let down by previous physiotherapy treatments, doctors or other treatments. She believes all active adults should have the confidence in knowing that their body can stand up to any task and stay mobile without the worrying of lingering injuries slowing them down.
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