4 Unique & Simple Exercises To Relieve Painful Feet!
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”Emma Lazarus, 1883
This quote is engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty. These inspiring words were written for weary immigrants seeking to forge new lives. At Pendotion, they also echo our passion to help others achieve healthy, pain-free living, and this starts with your feet!
The fact is, most of us have experienced tired and sore feet. Whether it’s general fatigue, or more chronic issues (like Plantar Fasciitis, Osteoarthritis and bone spurs), what matters is what the heck can we do about it?
If you want a medical opinion for your feet, then definitely have a specialist check them out. If you are seeing a specialist, do some research on how the foot works, before your visit. Also, write down any questions and concerns you have, so you won’t forget to voice them. Finally, keep in mind that, for some people, going to a foot specialist can be an emotional and expensive trip. Here are two common messages that you might run in to:
- You need to accept that your feet cannot repair themselves. Once you have foot issues, (for example fallen arches/flat feet), you will have them – for the rest of your life.
- To relieve your foot pain, you will need to wear orthotic insoles or orthotic shoes – for the rest of your life.
This approach is misguided because it completely ignores your body’s ability to adapt and change. The body is designed to respond to it’s environment. In the case of flat feet, remember that we are born with natural arches and we can rebuild and maintain them with movement. All healthy adaptations are initiated by new movement. This includes your feet!
Most people who wear them know that orthotics feel ahh-mazing on sore feet. Having something cradle and align your feet perfectly is great. However, they also limit the foot’s range of motion and the arches ability to pump. In essence, they keep your feet stiff in one perfect position. Your foot needs to function – not just pose. So, if you do wear orthotics, be sure to do some healthy movement in your bare feet! You can retrain your feet to proper alignment, arches that pump, strength and resiliency. Then, you might not have to depend on orthotics for pain-free feet. Don’t give up! Here’s a gentle movement to start retraining your feet.
Typical Physical Therapy Advice
Physical therapy is a popular choice for those suffering from constant foot pain. There’s a lot of traditional exercises that promise to strengthen your feet. Some of them are quite good, like massaging a ball or a roller on the the bottom of your feet! This movement stimulates circulation, hydrate the layers of fascia, and delivers pain relief. However, there many traditional therapy exercises that can do more harm than good. A perfect example of this can be seen below.
This exercise is suppose to “strengthen” your toes. Unfortunately, it trains them to work the exact opposite of how they function! Think about it. Do you ever curl your toes to walk? How about to climb up stairs, or jump? Of course not. You instinctively stretch them and press them into the ground. Training your toes to scrunch is an ineffective waste of time. (Unless you have small kids and you’re tired of bending down to pick up stray Lego pieces.)
During upright movement, our feet (including our toes) are meant to do the following:
- Absorb shock.
- Transfer force.
- Sense changes in the floors surface.
- Negotiate and coordinate motion.
- Capture the ground force and propel us forward (like a spring).
- Initiate the transfer of fluids throughout the body.
Pain-free feet starts with healthy movement. This should never be ignored. The good news is that you can start awakening your feet today. Here’s another effective exercise to help you achieve that goal!
Foot Wear To The Rescue?
Most shoes, even expensive athletic shoes, inhibit our natural movement to some degree. It’s like outsourcing the many jobs our feet perform and giving it to another company. Now don’t get us wrong. At Pendotion, we love shoes. Some of our best friends are shoes! However, we shouldn’t rely on them to restore our feet. Our body can take care of that. Just take a few minutes each day to repair and revive from wearing shoes. Whenever possible, spend time using your feet while barefoot. This next exercise will help your feet move better and feel great!
Miracles In A Bottle?
Now let’s consider the pills and potions that can give us pain relief. Anti-inflammatory pills and rubs are one way to bring down swelling and reduce pain. Keep in mind that they are for temporary symptom relief. They are not meant to solve the underlying issue. It’s always important to ask yourself why your feet are inflamed and swollen. Is it improper alignment? Then retrain your feet. Is it overexertion? Slow down and rest. Is it poor circulation? Then get moving. Focusing on the cause is the best way to achieve long-term solutions for your foot pain. This last exercise will help your feet support your physically active life!
For an complete workout that will retrain your feet to be healthy and pain-free, check out our Pendo To Go video series. You can purchase our video download focused on feet or a 3 pack DVD bundle that includes workouts for your back and knees.
Final note. If you enjoyed reading this information (hopefully), and found these exercises effective (definitely), please pass this along to others. Our goal is to share Pendotion’s amazingly simple techniques with everybody. Because everybody deserves to move well!