Thinking on Your Feet: Preventing and Dealing with Pain in Your Feet

Your feet are the foundation of your body’s locomotion. If you are reasonably active until the age of 80, then you should walk an average of 110,000 miles during your lifetime. Your feet will certainly be subject to quite a bit of wear and tear as a result. It is likely that at some point you will experience some type of foot pain in your life.

The forces that the structure of your feet experiences on a regular basis can have a significant impact on their function. The stress and strain that are present as you place, then shift, your body weight from one foot to another is immense. This is even more apparent when you look at how that force increases when you participate in activities such as running.

In order to accurately understand how you can best prevent or deal with foot pain, you may want to have a basic knowledge of the way that your foot functions.

Function of Your Foot

Your feet are strong and complicated mechanical structures. They consist of over one hundred ligaments, tendons, and muscles as well as thirty-three joints and twenty-six bones. Twenty of the thirty-three joints articulate actively. Your feet can be divided into several categories. These are the forefoot, midfoot, and hindfoot.

Your forefoot is made up of five toes which correspond with their respective proximal long bones. This forms your metatarsus. Similar to your hand, the bones of your toes are referred to as phalanges. Your big toe is made of two phalanges, while your other toes each contain three phalanges. The joints between each of your phalanges are referred to as interphalangeal, whereas the joints between your phalanges and your metatarsus are referred to as metatarsophalangeal.

Your midfoot connects your forefoot and hindfoot via five unusual bones, muscles, and your plantar fascia. The irregular bones in your midfoot are the navicular, cuboid, and three cuneiforms. These form the arches of your feet. Contrary to what you may believe, your feet each have three arches. Two of these arches are longitudinal while one is transverse. The arches of your feet, when mobile during weight-bearing activity, are responsible for the proverbial spring in each of your steps. They transmit the weight, then contract as you shift your weight to your other foot which reduces the cost of energy to you when jogging, walking, or running.

Your hindfoot consists of your talus and calcaneus. The talus is commonly referred to as your ankle bone while your calcaneus is more commonly known as your heel bone. The calcaneus is the largest bone of your foot and is subject to incredible forces applied by both the plantar fascia and your Achilles tendon. It is often the subject of enormous pressures during locomotion as it strikes the ground. Cushioning your heel bone from underneath is a generous layer of fat.

Causes of Pain

Pain is your body signaling your brain that there is damage being done to your body. Whether this damage is to bone or tissue will have an effect on the type of pain that you experience. Common culprits resulting in pain in your feet can include inflammatory conditions, overuse, injury, or disease. Some of the most common causes of foot pain are:

  • Fracture or break
  • Bursitis
  • Bone spurs
  • Arthritis
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Tendinitis

You should consult medical attention if you are experiencing severe swelling and/or pain, show signs of infection such as warmth and redness of the skin, cannot place weight or walk on your foot, and/or have an exposed wound with or without pus. You should also speak to your doctor right away if you are diabetic and have a wound that refuses to heal or is swollen, deep red, and warm to your touch.

Support and Stabilize

When implementing solutions to prevent or deal with foot pain, you should consider several key factors. Your body weight, foot flexibility, the fit of your shoes, proper cushioning and support for your arches, as well as your level of hydration can all play a serious role in the continued health of your feet.

Properly fitting shoes, insoles, or even braces can easily provide you with a solution for heel pain by properly supporting, stabilizing and cushioning your feet while in motion. This can help to reduce the effects of wear and tear on your entire foot and even provide much-needed relief from plantar fasciitis. Use of these aids can also significantly improve the recovery time after an injury.

Maintaining a healthy body weight can drastically impact the health of your feet. Regular exercise can assist you with regulating your body weight and also has the ability to help strengthen all of your body’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This can ensure that your feet, as well as the rest of your body, are best prepared to deal with the demands of any physical activity.


Image courtesy of Praisaeng at

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