The Best Way to Prevent Foot Pain
By Tricia Davis, PT
Having healthy and strong feet is vitally important to anyone participating in weight-bearing sports – especially for triathletes. Pounding on one foot during the running stride is the first thing that comes to mind here. But, what about the power you deliver through the pedal into the cranks on your bike, or having nice flexible “flippers” in swimming?
If you have ever had foot pain, you know all too well how it affects every step and move you make during the day.
With your feet, you can not simply “immobilize” them or “let them rest for a day or two.” Many problems can occur below the ankles. From plantar fascitis, tendonitis and bunions to the neighboring tissues in the Achilles or peroneal tendons that affect your balance. Not to mention the pain from a hammertoe, neuroma or from ingrown toenails. The list could go on and on here. That is not what this post is about. The best way to avoid most of these issues is with PREVENTION.
Heres how that works:
Strengthen your intrinsic foot musculature by making those small specailized muscles do something!
Walking on soft uneven surfaces, scrunching your toes up and splaying them out to grip the earth is a good start. How about picking up corks or marbles? Sounds like a good party trick!
Stretch your calves and plantar fascia- use a towel or a strap and pull your foot toward your shin.
Pictured below – hold at least 30 seconds and do 3 times per foot
Work on your balance and ankle strength- standing on an air disc or BOSU ball works well for this.
Really challenge your balance and try barefoot so you can use your toes. Stand on one leg for 1 minute and do 3 reps per leg. If that is too easy- try it with your arms crossed over your chest.
Once you progress – try closing your eyes or doing a single leg dead lift or mini squat on the standing leg.
If you have a balance board this would be a good time to climb on that barefoot.
Keep the muscles pain-free and flexible.
How about a good foot massage if you are not ticklish? Really get into the arch and around the ball of the foot. Use a lacrosse ball, frozen water bottle, self- massage stick or foam roller for your feet and calves before or after a hard workout.
Keep your toenails trimmed, but not too short!
Nicely trimmed toenails don’t just look good, they last longer. This is something that you really need to stay on top of. It would be nice to get a weekly pedicure, but at least keep your toenails trimmed every couple of weeks. Too long and they will bump into your footwear, too short and you might run the risk of having the edges grow or dig into the sides of the nail bed. Keep them nicely filed too – for your bed mates sake!
Have a good hard look at your callouses.
Large, thick callouses can mean trouble! Its your foots way of trying to protect itself from large forces, shear, friction or pressure. Consult a podiatrist if you are worried or notice something new, don’t wait for them to become painful before getting help (remember PREVENTION).
Now get out there and take care of your FEET! Stop taking them for granted.
Tricia Davis, PT
Tricia Davis is Co-owner of Potential Energy Training and Nutrition, USAT and USAC Certified Coach, wellness and injury prevention specialist.
Tricia is a hyperkinetic, Canadian trained physiotherapist of over 20 years and athlete. Good at seeing the big picture, she is able to focus on the most important specific details for you to achieve success. Tricia thrives most in helping those with limited time by providing evidence based training and skill acquisition in order to make training the most efficient way to attain goals while reducing risk of injury. Tricia is passionate about health, wellness and efficiency in sport while maintaining a balance in all aspects of life.