Nothing can bring your active lifestyle to a screeching halt quite like foot pain. After all, if it hurts to stand, you can pretty much forget about walking, biking, running and jumping.
Here, we’ve identified some of the most common causes of foot pain and their respective treatments as well as shared some general tips for putting your best foot forward.
Common foot conditions
Friction from ill-fitting shoes may cause one or more of the following foot conditions to occur:
- Blisters. Small bubbles on the skin that typically contain clear liquid. Treatment may involve cleaning and applying antibacterial cream and protective gauze or popping the bubble(s) with a sterile needle (discuss this method with your doctor first!).
- Corns. Small, painful deposits of skin, usually located on or between the toes. Treatment typically includes soaking the affected area in warm water and using an emery board or pumice stone to slough off excess skin.
- Calluses. Buildups of thick, hard skin, generally found on the soles of the feet. Calluses are also treated by soaking the affected area in warm water and filing away surplus skin with a pumice stone or emery board. However, some cases may require prescription medication.
- Plantar fasciitis. Inflammation of the band of connective tissue on the sole of the foot, known as the fascia. The most common type of heel pain, plantar fasciitis may also result from excessive pronation (rolling the foot and ankle inward, causing the arch to flatten). It is typically treated with stretching exercises, night splints, compression socks and/or orthotic shoe inserts. However, more severe cases may require steroid injections and/or surgical repair.
Some other common foot ailments include:
- Heel spurs. Bony protrusions on the heel, resulting from repeated tearing of the membrane attached to the heel bone. Heel spurs frequently accompany plantar fasciitis and may be treated with orthotic shoe inserts, pain medication and/or surgery.
- Achilles tendinitis. Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, typically caused by torn or stretched fibers due to overuse. Achilles tendinitis is generally treated with stretching exercises, anti-inflammatory medication, rest and ice.
- Fungal infections. Athlete’s foot is a fungal condition characterized by dry, itchy, scaly skin and tiny blisters between the toes and on the bottoms of the feet. Discoloration and excessive thickness of the toenails may indicate a fungal infection of the nails. Both athlete’s foot and nail fungus can be treated with over-the-counter anti-fungal cream or tea tree oil.
Steps for healthy feet
The following are some simple ways to care for your feet (and help prevent the conditions detailed above!):
1. Soak your feet regularly
Pamper your tired, aching feet with a DIY foot bath. Simply add 1/2 cup of Epsom salt to a tub of warm water. Then soak for approximately 20 minutes, or longer if desired.
2. Smooth your skin
Stop corns and calluses before they start! After your foot soak, use an emery board or pumice stone to gently slough away any excess skin.
3. Apply moisturizer
Be sure to choose a hydrating variety that contains ingredients like cocoa or shea butter. If your heels are badly cracked, you may want to consider using medicated heel pads or asking your podiatrist for a prescription ointment.
4. Keep feet dry
A little foot powder and moisture-wicking socks can go a long way toward warding off foot fungus!
5. Choose good shoes
Measure your feet every time you shop, keep the heels low (less than 3/4 of an inch) and wear appropriate footwear for each activity you engage in (e.g., running shoes for running, tennis shoes for tennis, etc.).
6. Seek additional support
If you plan on standing for long periods, consider investing in some insoles for extra support.