For most of us, our feet provide the freedom to get from point A to B with minimal effort. But it’s easy to take the feet for granted, until we have foot pain. Sticking to an exercise program is already challenging, but exercising with foot pain can be nearly impossible.
Injuries to the feet and ankle actually rank among some of the most common in the entire body because they handle so much weight and are used so frequently. Ankle sprains are by far the most prevalent injury to this region, especially in active individuals. Other foot injuries include plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, stress fractures, and growth plate injuries (in children). Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula that will prevent all foot and ankle injuries from occurring, but there are a number of steps you can take to significantly reduce your personal risk for experiencing one.
Considerations for exercising with foot pain
The most obvious solution if you have foot pain is to find activities that limit weight bearing on your feet. Riding a stationary bike or swimming would reduce the amount of pressure on your feet and give the injury a chance to heal. Here are some other steps that you should take if you have foot pain:
Warm up and stretch
Regardless of what activity you’re about to partake in, it’s always important to get the blood flowing with a warm-up and some stretching before physically exerting yourself. Dynamic stretches that mimic the sport or exercise you’re participating in are best for reducing injury risk
Build up your strength
Strengthening the muscles of the feet and lower leg is extremely important for injury prevention, as it will provide a more sturdy foundation for the rest of the body. Strong muscles in this area will also improve balance, which can further reduce the risk of injury.
What are the best exercises for foot pain?
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping the knees straight. Raise the heels off the floor as high as you can, then return to the floor and repeat. To progress the exercise, stand with your toes on a step.
Sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet gently resting on the floor. Spread your toes apart as far as possible without straining them and hold the position for 5 seconds. Repeat this motion 10 times
Resisted ankle inversion
Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched and a band wrapped around the foot you want to work. Tie the other end around something sturdy to the outside of the leg. Keeping the lower leg still, try to move your ankle and toes towards the other leg.
Resisted ankle eversion
For eversion, move the attachment of the resistance band so it’s on the other side of the body. Turn the foot outward, pointing your toes away from the other foot.
Wear the right shoes
Try to always use shoes that are appropriate for the activity. Your shoes should provide support and comfort while being able to withstand the physical demands of the sport they’re being used for. It’s also a good idea to avoid wearing high heels regularly and to be careful about your sandal selection.
Steer clear of the wrong surfaces
Running or training on uneven surfaces can increase the likelihood of an injury, so it’s best to avoid these as much as possible.
Train in moderation
Many injuries result from overdoing it or increasing physical activity levels too aggressively. This is true for everyone, but especially those who have not been active in a long time and those starting a new sport or activity. Try to advance your regimen gradually to avoid these types of injuries.
Listen to your body
If you do notice pain in your foot or ankle, it’s probably a sign from your body that you’re overdoing it. Learn the difference between typical muscle soreness (which often develops after working out) and lingering pain (which could be a sign of a more serious issue), and seek help when the pain doesn’t subside.