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Causes of Pain in Foot

“Your Life and Your Feet” by Jeffrey Jacobs, C. Ped

At some time in your life you will have a foot problem. Chances are you have already experienced the impact foot pain can have on your quality of life. While we all know it is important to stay active, what do we do if our feet hurt? Understanding our feet and knowing how to treat and prevent foot problems is vital to our longevity and overall health.

A quarter of all the bone in our body are in the feet, 52 of them. Our feet are required to be flexible and rigid at different stages of walking and they must support a load of up to 4 times your body weight. Our feet are among the most complex structures in human anatomy, but as complicated as feet are, most foot problems are simple to classify, “over use syndrome”.

“Over use syndrome” is a term used to describe a foot injury that develops gradually as a result of a change in intensity or type of activity. For a runner this may be increasing mileage or speed. For many, it may be starting a new exercise program or weight gain. In any case, if your feet hurt it will force you to reduce your activity level and consequently diminish your overall health.

The best treatment and prevention for foot related problems is a combination of stretching, weight control and appropriate footwear. Weight is a significant factor in foot problems and, unfortunately, the less you can exercise due to foot pain the more difficult it is to control your weight. Stretching also helps by toning the muscles and tendons in the back of your legs that have attachments in the foot, this is especially important for people who are suffering from plantar fasciitis or heel pain.

As you might guess, wearing well-fitted, well-made and appropriate footwear can help to reduce foot problems. Selecting the right shoe type is perhaps the most important factor. Shoes made for walking and athletics are best. They should provide support and control while allowing ample room in the forefoot. High heels, although fashionable, are orthopedically unsound and may account for the fact that nearly 85% of all forefoot surgeries are performed on women. You should shop for shoes in stores that have trained sales people who will measure your feet and assist you in selecting the right size and model for your foot type.

For more persistent foot problems, orthotics or custom made inserts can provide additional support and/or cushioning. They are made to your personal foot shape and are designed to address biomechanical deficiencies. If you do have persistent foot pain, it is best to consult your physician or podiatrist for treatment. Despite what many people think, it is not normal for your feet to hurt.

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