We usually don’t think about our feet. Until they hurt. We tend to take them for granted, but like other parts of our body they can get tired, overused, sore, and in need of some attention.
When they start to hurt it can lead to many other problems.
When your feet hurt you don’t want to do much of anything. You just want to stay off of them. Your body likes to move, though. And your brain functions better when you are active. So foot pain can quickly lead to other issues.
Foot pain can cause of other pain in your body. If your foot hurts, you change the way you stand, walk, and move. Those changes affect your legs. When your legs hurt, you make more changes in what you do, which affects your hips, then your back, then your neck.
Some jobs involve being on your feet most of the day. Often it is on hard floors or rough terrain. You may have a long walk from the parking lot to your job.
At home we walk around to take care of our place, our family, and our belongings. We shop, stand chatting with a friend, stand in lines, and walk around doing errands. We cook, do laundry, clean and put things away. You may make multiple trips up and down stairs every day. Yard work and home maintenance keeps us on our feet as well.
You may kick things out of the way or stomp your feet to let out some frustration. You may do extra walking for exercise or from an inconvenience, or run to make it somewhere on time.
If you enjoy sports you use your feet to run, jump, and kick. Your feet take a real pounding since they support all your body weight along with the extra force from the exertion.
For exercise or fun activities you use your feet for yoga and fitness classes, hiking, climbing, kickboxing, and dance - and hauling all of your equipment around..
Your feet have things dropped on them and they get stepped on. You step on unexpected things such as rocks, tools, or toys (Legos!).
All of your leg joints are all affected by your feet. Joints are under pressure from muscles and bones pulling and twisting on them. Relieving foot pain allows your muscles and joints to be in their proper positions and with less pressure on them you feel better.
We squeeze our feet into uncomfortable shoes or boots. Sometimes it may be for the sake of fashion, such as high heels. Other times work footwear is uncomfortable. Sandals may be more comfortable but they may not provide the support your feet need.
Manual bodywork provides relief from Plantar Fasciitis, heel pain, and other common foot pain. Most muscles that move your foot start in your calf, so relieving foot pain can also reduce calf pain too.
Your feet do a lot for you. Give them some attention so you can keep doing what you want.
Chronic pain deserves your respect.
You completely remodeled your brain around this pathway.
You took time and due diligence to build an autobahn of pain.
It took, on average, over 6 months or more to build.
And now, it’s a superhighway that your brain built because you told it to do so.
To build a new pathway away from this chronic pain highway, you have to bow to it.
Acknowledge it, as it consistently demands your respect.
That’s why you hurt.
And despite the temptation of quick fixes, injectional magic, and special toys – it likely will persist.
It doesn’t not want you to dissociate from it.
After all, your nervous system built it and worked very hard at it.
You must build a new pathway, if you have any chance of feeling something else.
Rather than dissociate, respect it and build new behaviors.
Don’t keep doing what you are doing and expecting a different result.
Respect this old highway.
Build a new one with new strategies.
Improve the way you move.
Improve your dietary intake.
Improve your mindset toward the pain.
Improve your breathing and meditation techniques.
Discontinue the perpetuations and ruminations that built the old highway.
Build something new.
Read books by Drs. Sarno, Moseley, and Doidge and everything you can get your hands on to learn more about chronic pain.
If you built the chronic pain superhighway, then never forget you have the power to build a new highway, too.
Back when I was still at my little office on Regency Court I had this idea of one day opening a movement center and offering classes and workshops (never mind the fact that I wasn’t qualified/certified to teach anything). I’ve always joked that I’m a trendsetter ahead of my time; I was stretching people before it was fashionable. I was also eating a paleo diet when everyone would ask “oh, it’s like Atkins?” No. No it’s not. Now I’m looking at getting a jump start on mobility classes, and I am so excited to share them with all of you!
What is mobility to you? Is it getting deeper in your overhead squat at Crossfit? Recovering from the half marathon that you did last weekend quicker than you did your last one? Improving your golf swing? Not limping when you get out of bed in the morning because your plantar fasciitis is flaring up? Moving better in your day to day life?
Mobility. Mobility. Mobility!
To me, it’s all of those things, and that is why I decided on getting certified as a LifeStretch® teacher.
Confession: I got certified as a LifeStretch instructor originally it was more for my own self care and recovery, but I then proceeded to do absolutely nothing with it. NOTHING. I don’t know why, I just wasn’t making the time for it, which is so silly because I am constantly preaching to all of my clients about how good you’ll feel after it. I was showing them moves to do but wasn’t doing them on my own. Until I taught a class at Wisconsin Athletic Club (WAC) and everyone loved it! They came in expecting a yoga class, they had these concerned looks on their faces when I told them we weren’t doing yoga, but after they had a look of pure bliss because they felt so great (and so did I!). LifeStretch comes from the same people who created Fascial Stretch Therapy (and if you’ve had an FST session from me you know how good it feels). Take a look at a segment from the Core 4 on the Floor series:
Can strengthening exercises help to eliminate pain?
Short and annoying answer is...yes...and no...maybe. Pain cannot typically be reduced to something as simple as weakness of a muscle. Not everyone with back pain has a weak core and not everyone with knee pain has weak hips. Does performing some isolated strengthening exercises for these muscles work for some people? Yes, but if not investigated more, they could actually just be hiding a bigger issue that could become more serious or chronic in nature. Those muscles may be under performing, but perhaps that's because we are asking to much of them.
A person with low back pain who is afraid to lift anything may not have a weak core, but rather needs to learn to not brace and hold their breath during movement. Some people need practice relaxing their core and letting their bodies function as they were designed.
A runner that has hip pain starting at 9 miles doesn't need to strengthen his hips so that they can just tolerate more of a pounding. Perhaps there is something else we can change to allow better impact absorption though the legs and spine to lessen the burden the hips have to manage.
So in the end the question is...do we want our bodies to be stronger so we can tolerate more stress, or do we want our bodies to be more efficient and not have to worry so much about our body breaking down? Strength training isn't a bad thing at all. It can be highly beneficial for health and performance, but as a physical therapist, it's my job to make sure a client isn't trying to use strength as a compensation when we should really be working on something else.
Dan Schumann DPT
A little from Dr. Dan, a little from Lisa but always a lot of good stuff!