By Chloe Aguilar, physical therapist with Salem Health Rehabilitation Center
Our feet constantly change throughout our lives. Many foot problems can appear along the way: bunions, extreme inflammation, sprains, torn tendons, and even stress fractures.
People with circulatory problems, diabetes, peripheral or arterial disease often develop aggravating numbness, tingling or burning sensations in the bottoms of their feet
Gravity is a pain
Gravitational forces are tremendous. That pressure flattens out feet and irritates everything underneath and generates foot pain.
Pain can come from plantar fasciitis — inflammation of the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes.
People can develop pain from nerves underneath their feet, heel spurs, and overstretching of ligaments.
Some people tend to pronate their feet (turned slightly inward). Pain can then appear in knees, hips, and even your back. Everything is connected.
The posture connection
Foot problems are often tied to changes in posture over time.
When we stand straight, pressure coming through the foot is equally distributed from the heel to the toes.
But if your head leans slightly forward, your shoulders will follow and your core muscles will not activate equally, causing pressure to move to a new place of the foot.
Most people don’t notice when this happens. We have foot pain and we’re not sure why. Unless you have somebody that can look at your alignment, you won’t know where to begin.
Physical therapy to the rescue
When I first evaluate a client, they stand in front of a floor-length mirror. By the time we’re done, they are aware if one shoulder is higher than the other. They’ll know if their head is deviated to one side and whether they’re activating their core.
We check if they put more weight on one leg than the other and whether they have knock knees or bowed legs.
Armed with that knowledge, the pain makes sense to people. They realize it just isn’t that their feet hurt. They also have building blocks above that contributed to the pain.
Then we work together to progress the client to the best postural alignment.
With poor posture and misalignment, pain will appear somewhere because our bodies are made to work equally — right side to left side… upper body to lower body.
Got pain? Don’t wait!
If you develop foot pain, ask your doctor about a referral to see a physical therapist as soon as possible.
The longer you wait, the longer it takes to feel better. If we see people in the inflammatory stage and teach them what to do — they may never have that problem again.
The longer the problem is chronic, the longer it will take to rectify. The body accommodates to anything — good or bad.
So get in early!