The more we tend to exercise and be active, the more we are prone to some muscle tightness, pains, aches, and issues popping up that cause us to scratch our heads in wonderment. You may even discover “new muscles” that you did not realize that you had and you may even leave a workout thinking, “What the hell did I do now?” Does that mean that exercising is bad? Absolutely NOT! It just means that we are putting ourselves into a circumstance that will allow for unfamiliar sensations and possibilities to pop up. We are also, however, putting ourselves into potential for growth- physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. As you know, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the concerns, so stay active and continue to work on your health. With that being said, it is essential to stay educated and listen to your body so that you can continue in working towards your abundance of health-related goals. One of the top questions I get is about foot tightness and pain, especially with runners, cardio-buffs, and more aggressive weight-lifters.
My Solution To Your Challenge
Challenge: “I have been having a lot of pain in my right foot, especially the arch. My calf hurts and is so tight. It feels like something is going to rip. I love to run, but I can’t because this pain just hurts so much. It even hurts to do lunges or anything that bends my toes. I am so frustrated and feel like every time I try to be active, I get set back because of this pain. It goes away and then comes back and, some days, I feel like I can not even walk without limping. I don’t know what to do. Do you have any recommendations?”
“Your athletic performance is only as good as your foot stability and strength.”
Solution: I have so many clients that have experienced this foot pain at one point or another in their lives. This is pretty common for people who are active and have tight/weak calf muscles or musculature surrounding the ankle and foot and causing them to alter their gait pattern, or walking style. To me, this sounds like plantar fasciitis. The first thing I would suggest is stretch, stretch, stretch. When you feel some tightness beginning or when your calf muscles are feeling tender, get to stretching so that you can free up those muscles and they are less likely to tug on the heel and plantar fascia. What happens structurally is that the calf muscle’s tendon, the Achilles tendon, runs under your heel and attaches onto the heel bone. When that calf muscle is very tight and/or extra weak, it will tug on the bone where it attaches. At the same area, the fascia, or the white, thick ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes, gets tugged on and can cause irritation, inflammation, pain, and weakness. When that happens, you will encounter some pain, weakness, and instability that can range throughout varying degrees, depending on your level of injury. So what the heck can you do? First, I would say to back off on ALL the exercises and cardio that bother you. If it hurts, don’t do it. Next, I would recommend performing the following 2-3 times a day, and adding in the strengthening when you are feeling ready, able, and pain-free to handle it. Finally, I would use some heat on the foot/ calf muscles and some natural pain-relief topical creams, like Topricin, if you feel that you are extra tight and need some relief.
Stage One-Getting back on your feet
Perform each for 2-3 times at 20 second holds each. Can roll for 5 minutes.
- Standing calf stretch:
- Step calf stretch:
- Big toe stretch:
- Can or frozen water bottle roll:
Stage Two- Up and Onward
Perform each for 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions
- Calf raises:
- Theraband or cable ankle dorsi flexion:
- Theraband or cable ankle plantar flexion:
- Theraband or cable ankle inversion:
- Theraband or cable ankle eversion:
If you feel that your pain is not getting any better and it has been weeks of consistent home treatment, then I would recommend seeing your doctor or an orthopedist to have further investigation of what you are experiencing individually. Remember that lifestyle choices increase the discomfort. So, eat a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods (always), throw away the high-heeled shoes, buy a pair or two of new and supportive shoes or sneakers, and decrease the amount of jumping or running or uneven terrain activity until you are feeling better. You may even want to consider a custom fit or a high quality pair of orthotics to wear in your everyday and/or workout shoes.
Take action now! Has foot pain been holding you back and you are not sure what to do? Try these exercises and tips above so that you can put an end to your pain once and for all.
Do you have a success story? If so, I want to hear all about it! Live your life with passion and purpose…
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