How to manage foot and ankle pain
Foot and ankle pain or discomfort can significantly affect your daily activities, influencing how far you walk, your exercise routine, and even the choice of footwear. In this blog I want to shed light on some common reasons behind this pain:
Previous Ankle Injuries: Ankle sprains are often overlooked and improperly treated. I frequently encounter individuals who have sustained an injury, such as a fall, a sports-related twist, or a slip from a height, resulting in ankle discomfort and swelling. Unfortunately, many just apply ice, rest for a short period, and continue their daily activities, enduring the pain without professional consultation. This negligence can cause future complications like ankle instability, especially if the ligaments or tendons are damaged.
Inappropriate Footwear: Numerous work environments and social events dictate specific footwear for extended periods. Sudden shifts in shoe type can trigger issues (like switching to high heels for an event when you're accustomed to flats). Consistently wearing shoes with inadequate ankle or arch support, hard soles, or general discomfort is problematic. Choosing the right shoes is crucial.
Muscle Imbalance: Imbalances in the muscles around your ankles, knees, hips, and even the lower back can result in foot and ankle problems. Our bodies operate in an interconnected manner called the "kinetic chain", so the movement and stability of one joint affect others. Maintaining a consistent exercise regimen that focuses on balance, strength and flexibility is essential to avoid such problems.
Recovery Methods for Foot and Ankle Pain:
While there are various causes of foot and ankle pain, the treatment methods are often similar. These techniques can help alleviate your pain and enhance foot and ankle mobility:
Foot Rolling: For pain under the foot or heel, roll a tennis ball or a bottle of cold water over the area for 1-3 minutes, three times daily. This can ease pain and loosen the plantar fascia - the connective tissue under your foot.
Work on your balance: Past ankle injuries can cause instability and recurring injuries, affecting ankle and foot mechanics. Enhancing balance is often beneficial. Begin by standing on one leg for a minute, progressing to doing so on a cushion, and eventually with your eyes closed.
Stretching: Regular calf and toe stretches can improve ankle flexibility and reduce discomfort.
1) Adopt a long lunge position with your front knee bent and back leg straight. Keep your back heel on the ground and lean forward to stretch the calf of the back leg. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.
2) While seated, cross one leg over the other, resting your foot on the opposite knee. Gently pull your foot back from the toes to stretch the sole. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.
Supportive Footwear and Insoles: Wearing shoes with adequate support, particularly if you stand for extended periods, is essential. Opt for shoes with solid ankle and heel support, a cushioned sole, and some arch support. If you must wear specific work shoes, consider soft insoles for added comfort. If over-the-counter insoles or these methods don't provide relief, consult a podiatrist or physiotherapist.
If you are unsure of the cause of your foot or ankle pain and need help with the appropriate treatment. Call Treat's Physiotherapist Claire Gurney for some advice.