By Dr. Jackie Sutera
Stretch, massage, ice routines are often prescribed for home treatments and also prevention from especially overuse injury. Stretching helps to loosen the connective soft tissue that holds our bones and joints together. Some of these soft tissues include: tendons, ligaments, fascia, capsule, muscle, etc. When these are loose and limber it reduces the chance of injury, inflammation and pain in the foot.
I would argue that calf stretches are the most important for the overall foot. This will lengthen and loosen both the achilles and plantar fascia, two very important structures that will cause inability to walk properly and pain if there is a problem.
Two other great foot stretches are:
- forefoot stretch (picture pulling apart the front of the foot by grabbing onto the great toe joint and pinky toe joint)
- ball of foot stretches (bending the toe joints back toward the top of the foot, and then forward toward the bottom of the foot).
Massage and Ice
Massage and icing, in my opinion, go hand in hand with stretching, especially when talking about relieving foot pain and discomfort. Massaging also helps to relieve tightness, encourages blood flow and circulation which is healing and regenerative. Ice is a natural anti-inflammatory and can assist in healing and pain management. Ice and rest are recommended for swelling and soreness.
Other tips that I encourage you to keep in mind:
Replace old shoes
Flat, thin, old and worn out shoes are not healthy for your feet overall and especially this vulnerable padding.
Have a Variety of Shoes
Have a variety of shoes to alternate throughout the week and day, shoes that are appropriate for whatever activity you are doing, and even adding insoles or arch support to your existing shoes that may be lacking this feature.
Choose Comfortable Options
Choosing comfortable, cushioned and supportive shoes is also a very easy and important way to prevent foot pain. Shoes with arch support and with a thicker sole to absorb shock are best overall and for daily use. Don’t underestimate how important shoe gear is! Shoes that offer support, cushioning and shock absorption, like styles from Vionic, are protective and can only help! If you don’t have enough of these 3 things, you can eventually develop pain, inflammation and injury.
Take Care of Your Feet
It is important to try to avoid long periods of walking and standing barefoot and wearing slippers or indoor shoes are great and easy ways to prevent foot pain. Consider getting a gel mat for the kitchen, standing desk, and any other place where you tend to stand in one place a lot. Also, try to follow a healthy diet, manage a healthy weight and stay active. When you are home, you should think of it as being in “active recovery”. Home should be a cozy place to relax and regenerate. Exercising barefoot (for higher impact workouts), cooking barefoot, up and down stairs, working from home–all of this adds up and slowly causes pain in feet and thinning of the fat pads on the bottom of the feet. I have seen an increase of this especially during the pandemic, because we have all been home more! After working out, after an injury, or even just a long day, take your shoes off and slip on a pair of Vionic slippers or recovery slides which include a massaging foot bed, dual density materials for stability and for cushioning.
About the Author:
Dr. Jacqueline Sutera is a surgically trained doctor of podiatric medicine specializing in the prevention and treatment of foot pathology. She graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Philosophy. She later attended the New York College of Podiatric Medicine where she earned the degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM). Dr. Sutera received her postgraduate residency training at the busy level-one trauma center at Jamaica Hospital in Queens, NY and Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. During her time there, she served as chief surgical resident and received and completed training in all aspects of podiatric medicine and surgery. Dr. Sutera is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons. She is also a proud member and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association and the New York State Podiatric Medical Society. As one of NYC’s premier podiatric physicians, she is a caring, conscientious and extremely personable doctor who prides herself on being holistic in her approach to foot care. Where other doctors treat feet only locally, she has a unique gift of being able to link some foot problems to other underlying conditions taking place in the body.