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Foot Health Blog

Find expert articles from physical therapists and podiatrists to help understand, diagnose, and treat different foot health issues such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, flat feet, and more.
Man in doctor's outfit showing young girl how to massage her foot with foam ball preview image

Person doing arch stretches
ArchHow to Stretch the Arch of Your FootThe arches of the foot make everyday movement possible. They help keep the foot flexible, making it possible to walk or sprint. Additionally, they allow the foot to support bodyweight properly. Sometimes, the arch can become painful due to flat feet, stress, overuse, injury, or using shoes with poor arch support. Regardless of the cause, stretching the arch helps keep the foot in optimal condition for movement. Benefits of Stretching the Arch of Your Foot Stretching can improve several conditions. It can be used to correct supination, strengthen arches, and relieve pain associated with metatarsalgia. Stretching the arch has several benefits, including: Increased blood flow Stretching can loosen any tight muscles and make muscle action relatively better. The increased blood flow can even help heal the arch.Improved flexibility While tightness can cause low flexibility, stretching the foot arch improves flexibility, making your gait easier and more efficient.Pain relief Stretching can have a soothing effect on pain in the arch and the ankle and leg muscles.Improved balance Stretching the arch of your foot can improve balance.Reduced risk of future injury Along with strengthening exercises, stretching reduces the risk of future injury. 1. Seated Foot Stretch Pain in the plantar fascia can be alleviated using a seated foot stretch. Here, the plantar fascia is relieved directly by stretching it. To perform the stretch, follow these steps: Sit on a chair with the affected heel over the opposite leg.Pull your toes towards your shin until you feel a moderate stretch. This will create tension in the heel.Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 2–3 times. 2. Plantar Fascia Stretch The plantar fascia stretch is useful for those who have arch pain due to plantar fasciitis. To perform one of these plantar fasciitis stretches, follow these steps: Stand against a wall.With one leg in front of the other, rest your toes against the wall. Keep your foot at a 45-degree angle.Push against the wall with the ball of your foot. Continue until you feel the tension in your arch and calf.Hold this position for about 30 seconds before relaxing. Switch to the other foot and repeat.Repeat the stretch 2–3 times daily. 3. Crouch Stretch The crouch stretch addresses any pain in the arch of the foot. Here's how to perform the exercise. Begin by crouching on the floor, yoga mat, or carpet. Ensure you’re supporting your body weight with the balls of your feet. Keep the backs of your heels pointing up throughout your stretch. Without lifting your feet, lean forward to place your hands and knees on the floor. Your buttocks should be just above your heels. Lean forward until you feel the stretch in your arch. Hold the position for 15–30 seconds.Repeat 2–4 times daily. 4. Stair Stretch Apart from stretching your arch, the stair stretch also stretches your calf muscles, increasing flexibility. You'll need a low step for this stretch. Here’s how to perform the exercise: While standing on the edge of the step, lower your heels so that they hang over the edge of the step. Find something to hold on to for support.Lower your heels until you feel a slight stretch in your arch and calf.Hold your position for 15–30 seconds before raising your heels back up.Repeat 2–4 times daily. 5. Loop Stretch The loop stretch is effective at relieving arch pain. Here's how to perform the stretch: Sit on the floor or a mat with your leg stretched out in front of you.Loop a towel around the ball of your foot, holding it at each end.Using the towel, pull your foot towards your body until you feel a stretch in your arch. Hold the position for 15–30 seconds before relaxing. Repeat 2–3 times per foot for maximum relief. 6. Towel Scrunch The towel scrunch is very helpful in improving the foot flexibility, stretching the foot, and maintaining foot range of motion. To perform the stretch, follow these steps: While seated on a chair, place your feet over a towel.Using your toes, scrunch the towel towards you, lifting your heels. You should feel a stretch in your arch.Return to starting position.Repeat up to 10 times or as much as your pain allows. 7. Marble Pick-up The marble pick-up works in the same way as the towel scrunch, helping to improve foot flexibility, maintain the range of motion of foot joints, and stretch the arch all at once. To perform the stretch, follow these steps: Begin in a sitting position with some marbles and a cup on the floor in front of your feet.One at a time, use your toes to lift the marbles from the floor and into the cup.Repeat at least 10 times on each foot.
Foot with bunions
BunionsHow to Prevent Bunions from Developing and Getting WorseBunions, often confused with bone spurs, occur commonly among the older population and are characterized by an outward movement of the big toe, leading to the development of a bony bump at its base. The ligaments become lax due to pressure placed on the joint over time, eventually causing the big toe to turn outwards toward the other toes. In most non-severe cases, this condition does not have symptoms of pain. It may have mild symptoms of pain in severe cases. Bunions can also appear as a bony lump on the outer part of the pinky toe, which is also known as a tailor's bunion. Causes of Bunions There are several causative factors in the development of a bunion. Ill-fitting shoes and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common causes of bunions. The risk of developing bunions increases depending on footwear choices, connective tissue disorders, age, sex, and genetics. Flat feet and rheumatoid arthritis can significantly increase your risk of developing a bunion. Shoes with a small toe box may cause the toes to be guided into unnatural positions or squeeze them together. This can lead to ligament laxity and potential deformity over time.  Symptoms of bunions include: Visible bump around joint of the big toe Outward movement of the big toe towards the second toeCallus around the bump caused by increased pressure on the tissue Stiffness or reduced range of motion in the big toe Pain and tenderness in the jointLimited ability to walk How to Prevent Bunions Make sure you effectively manage other conditions that could lead to the development of bunions. You can prevent the development of bunions by limiting the amount of pronation in the foot and stress applied to the big toe. This can be done by distributing the weight onto the entire foot and lessening the amount placed onto the big toe by using orthotics. Managing conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and other foot deformity-associated conditions will prevent the development of bunions in the future.  Toe exercises for bunions can be done daily to slow down the development of bunions alongside other exercises. These can be done when you notice the early signs of bunions. Toe exercises Start by sitting with your feet out in front of you in a comfortable position. Attempt to fan your toes apart. Hold for 5 seconds and release. Repeat 10 times per foot.  Marble pick-ups Start by sitting with marbles, or any other small round objects, placed on the floor in front of you. Pick up the marbles with your toes and put them in a cup. The squeeze needed to collect the marble and pick it up will strengthen the intrinsic muscles of your foot. Place 10 marbles into the cup and repeat on your other foot.  Towel grip You can start by sitting with your feet placed on a towel with your toes facing forward. Attempt to push your toes forward toward your heel, squeezing the muscles of the sole of your foot. Hold for 10 seconds and relax. Repeat 10–12 times. This will strengthen your foot muscles, aiding in mobility and injury prevention.  How to Stop Existing Bunions From Getting Worse Shoe inserts for bunions and other orthotics specifically designed to prevent bunions will effectively slow the bunion's rate of progression. These orthotics aim to maintain the alignment of the big toe and prevent the bunion from getting worse. Bunion correctors like bunion pads help distribute weight through the entire forefoot. Toe separators may also be a great way to maintain the gap between the first and second toes when wearing a tight-fitting shoe. Choosing the correct footwear when you have bunions is extremely helpful in not aggravating the condition further on a day-to-day basis. Choosing shoes with a wide toe box, soft sole, and adequate stability should not aggravate your symptoms. Avoid shoes that are tight, narrow, or have high heels, as this could aggravate your symptoms further. Is It Possible to Get Rid of Bunions?  It’s difficult to completely fix bunions without surgery as this condition progresses naturally as the ligaments get further lax with use and age. Reducing the amount of pressure placed on the joint will slow down the progression of the deformity. Orthotics for bunions and bunion pads are a cost-effective and safe way to reduce the pressure on the affected joint. Using arch supports in combination with other conservative treatments is also a good option for treating bunions. Exercises can be done in conjunction with the orthotics to aid in restoring and maintaining alignment of the joint while walking or running.  Wearing shoes that provide enough toe space and do not compress the big toe will also slow the progression of a bunion, as mentioned above. Medication can be prescribed by a medical professional to relieve any pain and inflammation that you may be experiencing. In severe cases of bunions where conservative options have failed, a medical professional would suggest surgery to correct the deformity and alleviate pain or discomfort. A host of different surgeries can be performed as a last resort. If you are experiencing increased pain in your feet, consult with a medical professional to determine the cause.
Foot with bunion corrector
BunionsDo Bunion Correctors Really Work?There are several ways to fix bunions without surgery. The use of bunion correctors has been proven to be effective, particularly in the beginning stages of bunions. Bunion correctors help straighten your big toe, keeping it in proper alignment. While they don’t cure bunions, bunion correctors can reduce pressure on the joints and provide pain relief. However, it should be noted that their effectiveness depends on the severity of the bunion and the type of pain you are experiencing. How Do Bunion Correctors Work? Repeatedly squeezing the feet into narrowly pointed footwear will place them under continuous stress. The body compensates for this by producing more bone in that area. Unlike with bone spurs, a bony bump forms at the base of the big toe over time and turns it outwards, causing more stress on the inner side of your foot. In the case of a tailor's bunion, the bump forms at the base of the small toe. This leads to the formation of bunions. Bunion correctors help correct the malalignment, restoring the big toe to its original position. Generally, they work to keep the toes straight by supporting the toes from the side. Over time, they force the toe back to its natural anatomic position so that the big toe can be kept straight even in the absence of the correctors. Types of Bunion Correctors There are slight variations in the design of bunion correctors. The design influences how and when to wear bunion correctors. Here are four types of bunion correctors. 1. Toe Spacer These are usually made of silicone or gel and can be worn with shoes. Begin by placing them in between your big and second toes. The toe spacer pushes against the big toe until it gets to its natural position. This brings pain relief and reduces the risk of blister formation on the second toe, which usually suffers from pressure caused by the big toe. 2. Bunion Splints Bunion splints are usually wrapped around the foot at night while you sleep to align the toes. While they do not eliminate the bunion, they help relieve any pain symptoms and limit the progression of the deformity. Over time, they can also realign the big toe back to its normal position. 3. Arch Supports Arch supports are relevant because a clear link has been established between flat feet and bunions. By providing structural support to the arch of the foot, arch supports help keep the foot neutrally aligned and thus limit the progression of a bunion. Arch supports exist in two forms: over-the-counter support and custom orthotics. The latter is guaranteed to bring better results. 4. Bunion Pads or Sleeves The continuous pressure of the bunion against shoes can cause pain and swelling. Bunion pads or sleeves offer protection from pressure and friction and help relieve symptoms. They are made of gel or moleskin and can easily be slipped over the big toe and the ball of the foot. How Effective Are Bunion Correctors? There is evidence to suggest that bunion correctors can provide temporary pain relief and also prevent the progression of bunions. However, the effects are likely small effects that compound over time instead of a once-off, long-term result. Aside from this, there is little evidence to suggest that bunion correctors are effective in completely getting rid of bunions. Alternatives to Bunion Correctors Bunion correctors are not the only way to treat symptoms caused by bunions. There are other conservative methods. Surgery is also effective in treating bunions when they cause severe pain or non–conservative methods have not yielded results. These treatment options are discussed below. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) During acute episodes, NSAIDs help limit inflammation and provide pain relief.Physiotherapy A physiotherapist will prescribe toe exercises for bunions to relieve symptoms, limit deformity progression, and improve gait efficiency.Proper footwear Shoes with low heels and wide toe spaces are necessary to reduce pressure on the big toe. Padding or taping You can also tape or pad around the bunion to cushion and reduce pressure on the bunion. Custom orthotics Orthotic devices for bunions can be used to keep the foot aligned and prevent the formation of any deformity. They can also cushion the foot to relieve any excess pressure on the big toes.Surgery There are many kinds of surgery that can be used to remove bunions. These surgeries involve tendon, ligament, and joint repositioning to change the position of the big toe. Osteotomy and fusion surgery are two important surgical methods that can be used.
Person holding the toes and heel of their foot
BunionsBunions vs. Bone Spurs: Differences & SimilaritiesBunions and symptoms associated with this condition are reported by 1 out of every 3 Americans. A bunion is a bony bump developing at the base of the big toe, which can be seen on the inner side of the foot. Inflammation of the fluid-filled sac around the toe joint leads to pain, and in some cases, redness can be seen around the area. In most cases, bunions are not dangerous to your overall health but can progress into severe pain and deformity if left unmanaged. A smaller bunion is also known as a tailor's bunion and can develop in the joint of your little toe. Early signs of bunions consist of the typical bony bump forming at the joint of the big toe accompanied by stiffness, swelling, and pain in the area. Calluses may also form on the inner edge of the bunion. What Is a Bone Spur?  A spur is an outgrowth that usually develops at the edge of a bone due to repeated stress applied to the structure. Bone spurs can occur across all joints in the body, including the big toe and calcaneus bone. Heel spurs are one of the most common forms of bone spurs and should not be confused with plantar fasciitis. Bone spurs can be caused by degenerative joint conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. A bone spur of a large enough size will compress the tissue around the affected joint, causing pain and inflammation. It usually develops without you knowing about it, eventually growing to a size where it protrudes into the tissue around the spur. Pain accompanying a bone spur has been described as a dull ache in the area around the bone spur and a sharp pain when placing weight onto the foot in the morning. People with bone spurs have also reported stiffness and numbness.  Comparing Bunions and Bone Spurs The main similarity between bone spurs and bunions is the development of a bony lump in a particular area of the foot. With bunions, this bony lump is visible at the base of the big toe, while bone spurs develop internally and apply pressure to soft tissue structures within the foot. These conditions are not severe and usually don’t cause symptoms in most people. From the early stages of bunion development, you will be able to see the joint of the big toe becoming slightly enlarged and inflamed. You will also notice the slow development of the bunion as the big toe becomes angled towards the smaller toes. Bone spurs usually grow larger without you being aware that the bone spur is developing. The bone spur will eventually reach a size where it will protrude into the tissue, aggravating the tissue with repeated walking or running. Bone spurs can occur in any joint in the body, including on the underside of the heel bone or calcaneus.  Treatments for Bunions and Bone Spurs  For both conditions, you can apply ice to painful areas to relieve symptoms of inflammation and pain. Rest will further allow inflammation in the area to subside without aggravating the joint or tissue around the spur again. For both conditions, weight loss will reduce the amount of force placed on the inflamed tissue and can help you relieve pain. Medication can provide relief from pain and inflammation that arise from the progression of both disorders. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help relieve these symptoms. Treating Bunions In combination with exercises for bunions, you can use orthotics for bunions to effectively manage the progression of bunion formation and even correct bunions without surgery. Bunion pads and custom footwear will be beneficial in alleviating the pressure placed on the forefoot and toe. Ensure that you are wearing footwear that is wide enough to allow space for the toes and forefoot. Shoes with a small toe box and a hard sole may aggravate symptoms associated with bunions.  Treating Bone Spurs Treatment for bone spurs includes a combination of exercise, orthotics, and medication to manage pain and inflammation. The soft tissue around the bone spur is prone to inflammation, so symptoms can be reduced by limiting the pressure put onto the tissue around the spur. You can experience a drastic reduction in symptoms with the correct custom orthotics that adequately relieve pressure around the area of tissue surrounding the inflamed structure. Orthotics are a cost-effective way to manage this and are interchangeable between shoes.  In severe cases of bone spurs, an arrangement of conservative treatment options may not be able to provide enough pain relief to carry out your daily activities in a pain-free manner. In cases where all conservative treatments have failed, a medical professional may suggest surgery to remove the bone spur entirely. It may take some time for you to fully recover after that, with the doctor usually recommending a period off your feet and time in a supportive walking boot. With bigger bone spurs, the doctor may recommend using crutches and a longer period in a boot, perhaps as much as 2–4 weeks. You can usually return to exercise and sport three months after the surgery, but this will depend on your surgeon.  For both conditions, if you are experiencing any symptoms that are disabling or reducing your ability to walk, it is advised that you seek advice from a medical professional.
Young woman holding foot with shoe off on the street while wearing exercise gear
HeelMost Common Causes of Heel Pain After RunningHeel pain is a relatively common injury among athletes, especially runners. The pain often starts subliminally, which can progressively worsen if left unmanaged. Without treatment, heel pain can make walking difficult and make carrying out your regular activities of daily living difficult. Unfortunately, there is no blanket treatment for heel pain. Rather, your approach depends on the specific cause. In this guide, we’ll carefully consider what heel pain after running looks like, what causes it, and how to prevent it. Heel Pain After Running: What Is It? When heel pain occurs, expect to experience some tenderness or pain at the back of the heel, at the bottom of the heel, or within the heel bone. The location of the pain is important, as it can indicate the cause of the pain. Plantar fasciitis, for example, is the most common type of heel pain that occurs under the heel. The pain is characterized by mild pain when running or exercising, becoming more severe after exercise or when resting. In addition, the pain may occur intermittently or regularly and makes it difficult to lift your toes off the floor. Most Common Causes of Heel Pain After Running Any number of reasons could result in heel pain after running. The most common causes include: Plantar fasciitis: The plantar fascia is the thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. Plantar fasciitis occurs in as much as 8% of runners due to repetitive stress, overuse, and a weakening of the collagen fibers surrounding the fascia. Pain due to plantar fasciitis has a gradual onset. However, there can be sudden onset of pain when there is microtrauma or tearing of the plantar fascia. Structural problems: Both high arches and fallen arches put a strain on the plantar fascia. As a result, you may experience pain after running if you suffer from either of these arch problems.Obesity: Obese individuals tend to place excess weight on their ankle joint and foot, causing pain in those regions. Other Conditions That Can Cause Heel Pain After Running The conditions listed above may be the most common causes of heel pain after running, however, they are not the only sources of pain. Many other conditions can cause heel pain, albeit less frequently. They include; Calcaneal apophysitis (Sever’s disease): Sever’s disease is a common cause of heel pain in active children who run and jump a lot. The increase in activity irritates the growth plate located at the back of the heel, which, in turn, causes heel pain.Achilles tendonitis: As the name implies, Achilles tendonitis is the inflammation of the Achilles tendon, or the fibrous cord that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Tight calf muscles, obesity, and poor gait mechanics are the major causes. Apart from pain, you may also notice redness and swelling around the heel bone. Heel spurs: A heel spur is a bony outgrowth around the heel bone. They often go undetected at first, but continue to grow as more and more calcium deposits compound in the area. While it doesn’t directly cause pain, it causes inflammation of the surrounding tissues, leading to pain. The symptoms of heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are similar, so they are frequently misdiagnosed.Bursitis: This condition refers to the inflammation of the bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs found between muscles, tendons, and bones. Bursae are responsible for reducing friction and allowing smooth movement over bony surfaces. However, excessive movement and strain of the bursae lead to inflammation, which often causes sharp or shooting pain and swelling or redness. Arthritis: Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the ankle joint will lead to inflammation in and around the heel bone, causing pain.Nerve compression: Compression of the nerves in the foot can cause sharp, radiating pain at the heels and make the feet feel heavy to lift. Can You Prevent Heel Pain After Running? Heel pain after running is preventable using a combination of methods. Ensuring you run with proper footwear for your foot type and gait while avoiding hard surfaces is a good way to start. Analyzing your gait can help you understand exactly how you run, so you can make necessary adjustments to your technique. Beyond this, avoid sudden increases in your mileage, and aim to keep increases below 10% weekly. Strengthening exercises for heel pain and stretching your plantar fascia and Achilles tendon are also recommended. If, after all these, you still develop heel pain, you can easily manage it using conservative means. These include the use of ice, NSAIDs, massage, orthotic insoles, custom orthotics, and vitamins, Avoid running with heel pain as it can prolong the healing time. However, if the pain remains following weeks of conservative management, it is time to see a doctor. Your doctor will take a detailed history of your heel pain and examine your foot objectively. The doctor will then prescribe a suitable treatment approach. As a last resort, surgery may be necessary if the pain problem persists.
A Vitamin B12 capsule broken open with a water droplet coming out on a blue background
Plantar fasciitis5 Vitamins That Help With Plantar FasciitisThough often not life-threatening, plantar fasciitis can be life-changing. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the fibrous band of tissue called the plantar fascia which connects the heel to the forefoot. Heel pain is a major symptom of plantar fasciitis and must be dealt with decisively. Otherwise, it can affect your ability to perform your regular activities of daily living, reduce your QoL and affect your fitness level. Minerals and vitamins are readily available options for improving foot health and addressing such conditions as plantar fasciitis. For example, magnesium reduces the rate of inflammation and breaks down all calcium deposits preventing the formation of heel spurs - which is common in plantar fasciitis. Thus, apart from being natural remedies, both minerals and vitamins are also effective in relieving symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Vitamins and Minerals That Assist With Plantar Fasciitis Pain Several vitamins are effective in remedying plantar fasciitis pain. Some of them are listed below along with their function, recommended dosage and source 1. Vitamin C Vitamin C is the top-rated vitamin for addressing all foot pain problems, including plantar fasciitis. It has strong anti-oxidant properties. By consuming vitamin C, any inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis will reduce. Sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, green peppers, melons, kiwis, strawberries, alfalfa sprouts, and potato skin 2. Vitamin D Vitamin D is similar to calcium in its function. When it is deficient, it can lead to the formation of heel spurs, which is a common occurrence in plantar fasciitis and a major source of pain. Thus, taking enough vitamin D will prevent the formation of heel spurs, relieve foot pain and also improve muscle function. Food sources of vitamin D include mushrooms, soy milk, oatmeal, fish (salmon sardine, canned tuna, eggs). It is also produced by the skin with exposure to the early morning sun. 3. Alpha-Lipoic Acid Alpha-lipoic acid is sometimes thought of as a variation of Vitamin E or a B vitamin. It is an antioxidant found in many foods and made naturally in the body. Its strong antioxidant properties will reduce inflammation. Likewise, it is known to relieve pain symptoms including pain due to nerve damage or neuropathy. Combined, these functions make it useful in addressing plantar fasciitis. Alpha-lipoic acid can be gotten through spinach, red meat, carrots, rice, broccoli, yams, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, yeast, Brussels sprouts, and bran. 4. Resveratrol Resveratrol possesses anti-oxidant properties that can prevent inflammation. Asides from this, it also improves blood flow which can help speed up healing in the foot and lead to the influx of pain-relieving substances in the by. It is found in the skin of red grapes, in red wine, peanuts and several berries. You can also take resveratrol as a supplement. 5. B Vitamins B vitamins (especially Vitamins B-1, B-6) can cause foot pain when they are deficient. So if you have plantar fasciitis and these vitamins are deficient, it can significantly increase your pain. Vitamin B-1 which is thiamine helps you digest carbohydrates and use fats and proteins. It also supports your immune system. It is found in pork, cereals, and yeast extracts. Vitamin B-6 called pyridoxine in addition to all these, supports the nervous system and its deficiency causes painful and burning sensations. It’s found in fish, beef liver, potatoes and meat. Can You Rely on Only Vitamins to Heal Plantar Fasciitis? The faster you get rid of plantar fasciitis, the better your quality of life. As such, using vitamins alone to address plantar fasciitis may not be the best approach possible. If you’ve been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, your available treatment options include rest, use of ice, exercises, use of orthotics. NSAIDs and cortisone injections may also prove quite handy when the pain is severe. Natural remedies like vitamins and minerals may improve your foot health by assisting and speeding up your recovery. Thus, the best way to treat your plantar fasciitis is to use the vitamins with other treatment options. This way you’ll get the fastest results. What Should You Do if You Are Not Experiencing Relief With Natural Remedies? Natural remedies may be enough intervention for your plantar fasciitis if you catch it quite early. But if you notice no improvement in your symptoms within a month, you should see your doctor or podiatrist. A podiatrist will probe beneath the symptoms to identify the cause of the plantar fasciitis and prescribe a treatment regimen that best addresses the condition and puts you on course for recovery. And where conservative treatment is not possible, your doctor may recommend surgery as a last resort to bring healing and relief.
A doctor holding an orthopedic insert
BunionsOrthotics for Bunions: How Insoles Can Relieve Bunion PainBunions, also known as hallux valgus, are a common foot issue across all ages and categories of people. When they occur, they can cause severe pain and hamper regular activities of daily living. Thus, bunions must be treated promptly using the right approach to avoid complications. What Is a Bunion? Bunions are bony lumps at the metatarsophalangeal joint near the base of the big toe. The lump is due to a malalignment of the joint, forcing the big toe against other toes. The MTP plays a major role in weight-bearing and transfer, which is especially true when running or walking. When a bunion forms near the big toe, it won’t start with pain. However, as you subject it to more pressure and stress from your activities, the pain increases. Generally, bunions develop on the big toe. When it develops on the little toe, it is called a tailor’s bunion or bunionette. They can also be classified based on severity and how much deformity has set in. The classification varies from normal to mild, moderate, and severe. What Causes Bunions? When the balance of the foot is affected, the big toe becomes unstable and bears more pressure. This causes the bunions to develop. Thus, we can say that bunions result directly from abnormal motion and faulty biomechanics. Bunions are more prevalent in older women than in their male counterparts. Some have traced this to the preference of ladies for high heels. Apart from age and gender, familial history also plays a part. Other reasons you may develop bunions include Biomechanical irregularities feet (e.g. low or fallen arches)History of foot injuryArthritisInflammatory joint diseases like goutRepetitive stress on the foot (ballet dancers often develop bunions)Use of Ill-fitting shoes or shoes with a narrow toe boxNeuromuscular disorders Are There Non-invasive Treatments for Bunions? Pain and discomfort are primary symptoms of the bunion and can be easily treated. However, the deformity itself can only be corrected with surgery. Otherwise, treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms. Treatment approaches include the use of ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), padding, taping, and custom orthotics. Orthotics Are the Best Treatment Custom orthotics are highly recommended in the management of bunions. Unlike OTC inserts which are not effective for bunions, research suggests custom orthotics will bring pain relief when used for bunion management. Using your foot impressions, the Upstep experts will design a custom orthotic tailored to your foot. Generally, the custom orthotics help control any excessive movement, provide arch and metatarsal support, and realign the bones. Together, this reduces the pressure on the MTP of the big toe. Where the foot is more rigid or motion is more restricted, the orthotics may help re-distribute pressure over the heel to reduce the stress on the first MTP. The most common type of custom orthotic is the shoe insert. Shoe inserts help by providing arch support and metatarsal support. Since the excessive movement of the medial arch can increase the pressure on the 1st MTP joint and symptoms, providing arch support reduces the excessive movement. Consequently, this can help improve the alignment and functioning of the MTP while relieving pain and preventing stiffness. Likewise, using a metatarsal arch support reduces pressure on the joint, encouraging normal movement without contributing more tension to the other toes. » Want to relieve bunion pain as soon as possible? Get your Upsteps from our store today. How Important Is Your Footwear? As useful as orthotics are in the management of bunions, it’s equally important to use them with the right footwear. Choosing the right footwear is crucial if pain relief is the goal as they work in combination with the insert to combat bunion pain and discomfort. The best type of shoe is the one with enough toe room. When making your choice, go for shoes that: Are made of a pliable material like leather to allow for widening and expansion.Have wide toe boxes. While cramped toes can increase your pain, space will relieve any pain and discomfort from the bunion.Are spacious enough to use the shoe insert without becoming uncomfortable.Are less than two inches tall. High-heeled shoes and pointed stilettos are not the best options as they place more stress on the MTP and do not provide adequate support for the arch. When you combine a custom-fitted insert with the appropriate shoe, you’ll have taken a giant stride to halt the progression of the bunion deformity and to relieve any pain and discomfort it may have been causing. Of course, your quality of life will also improve.
Woman using toe stretcher on both big toes
BunionsBest Exercises to Treat Bunions and Relieve PainA bunion (medically called hallux valgus), simply refers to the bony bump that forms on the outside of the big toe. This foot deformity usually develops from years of repeated pressure on the joint of your big toe—the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. While bunions usually occur at the base joint of the big toe, there are times when one might also find them near the base of the little toe instead. These are known as bunionettes or tailor's bunion. A bunion is also progressive, and, if left untreated, could lead to even more problems, such as: Worsened pains (burning sensation)StiffnessHammertoes (painful, tight toe tendons and joints)Corns or calluses Although a family history of foot structure deformities like flat feet is the most common risk factor for bunions, there are many other causes of bunions as well, including foot injuries and inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. In this article, we look at the benefits of foot exercises for bunions, the types of exercises, and how long it takes for a bunion to heal. The Benefits of Foot Exercises for Bunions Foot aches that come with bunions will likely discourage physical activity, and less activity can be detrimental to one's overall health. This makes it even more important that one finds a way to relieve the pains attached to bunions, which is where foot exercises come in. Of course, foot exercises will not get rid of bunions due to the fact that it is a biomechanical deformity. However, foot exercises are highly recommended as a bunion treatment as they are beneficial in helping to relieve the pains associated with bunions and improve flexibility. Furthermore, these foot exercises help in slowing down the progression of your bunion—keeping the rest of the foot movable—while also strengthening the muscles controlling the big toe. Toe Stretches for Bunions Stretching out your toes will somewhat help keep them readily bendable and get rid of foot pain. To stretch your toes, follow these steps: Point your toes straight ahead for 5 seconds Curl them under for 5 seconds Repeat the procedure 10 times Toe stretches can be particularly beneficial to you if you also suffer from hammertoes or other misalignment conditions. Flexibility Exercises for Bunions Flexibility exercises are usually carried out to flex and stretch the muscles of the toes. Under this category, two methods will be discussed. The first method is as follows: Press and hold your toes against a hard surface like a wall for at least 10 seconds Repeat the exercise 3-4 times Now flex your toes in the opposite direction and hold that position as well for 10 seconds Repeat the exercise 3-4 times Another exercise that achieves this is called "picking the marbles," which involves picking up marbles or stones with your toes. This is simply done by placing marbles on the floor and using your foot to pick them up one by one, placing them in a bowl in front of you. Strengthening Exercises for Bunions Walking barefoot on the beach and doing the heel raise are the best strengthening exercises. With barefoot beach walking, it's as easy as it sounds. If you have a beach around you, simply visit it and walk around barefoot in the sand for a while. It will feel like a foot massage but will help a great deal in strengthening the muscles in your feet and toes. The heel raise, however, involves the following steps: 1. Be in a sitting position and place your foot flat on the floor 2. Lift your heel and put most of the weight toward the outside of the ball of your foot 3. Hold for 5 seconds and place back on the floor 4. Repeat 10 times on each foot How Long Do Bunions Take to Heal? As mentioned earlier, the only way to permanently get rid of a bunion would be correction surgery. No two people are exactly the same and it's the same with recovery. Again, recovery is dependent on a lot of other factors like the severity of the bunion, underlying health issues, the procedure undertaken, and how well you follow instructions. However, it will take an average of six to twelve weeks for the bones to completely heal and for residual pain or swelling to disappear.
A person holding the back of their heel with a highlighted red area showing where pain is being felt
HeelPotential Causes and Diagnosis of Pain at the Back of the HeelHeel pain is a common cause of discomfort in many people. It’s a symptom with a diverse number of causes ranging from those that affect the heel bone directly to those that affect structures around it. One of the most commonly affected areas of the heel is the back. Heel pain can make it difficult to perform your activities of daily living. For treatment to be effective, a proper diagnosis is necessary. Where treatment is prompt, the pain can be limited and the condition controlled by non-surgical treatments. Otherwise, surgery may be necessary. Let’s consider in some more detail what pain in the back of the heel look like and its causes. Areas of Pain in Heel The area where pain occurs in the heel can indicate its case. Generally, there are three patterns to the presentation of pain in the heel: Behind the heelUnder the heelWithin the heel bone Symptoms of Heel Pain Alongside heel pain, you can expect the following symptoms: Skin discoloration (bruising or redness)Warmth around the tendonAchilles tendon tightnessAnkle joint stiffnessSwelling and tendernessPain on standing from a resting/sitting position Causes of Pain in the Heel As previously mentioned, heel pain can have several different causes, the most common of which are as follows: Achilles tendonitis This is the major cause of pain at the back of the heel. It occurs when the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed due to overuse and is more common in men and older people. Plantar fasciitis Plantar fasciitis causes pain at the bottom of the heel. It occurs when excessive loading of the feet damages the plantar fascia ligament, leading to inflammation and stiffness. It is most common in people that engage in high-impact activities like running. Heel bursitis This is an inflammation of the bursae between your heel bone and Achilles tendon, causing pain in the back of the heel bone. Stress fractures A sudden increase in intensity by athletes over a short period can lead to a stress fracture of the heel bone. Heel pad bruise This is caused by an acute traumatic injury to the back of the heel leading to sharp pain. It can be caused by excessive weight-bearing exercises and landing poorly after jumping from a high perch. Fat pad atrophy With aging, the fat pad in the heel of atrophies. Likewise, the thinning of the fat pad can occur with repeated trauma to the heel (for example, the heel of an obese person or marathon runner). The result is an aching pain in the bottom and back of the heel. Factors That Increase the Risk of Heel Pain Generally, the chance of developing heel pain increases with more pressure and loading on the feet. Thus, you’re more likely to develop heel pain if you: Are obesePerform high-impact activities like running or jumping oftenHave flat feet or high foot archesHave foot and ankle arthritisStand for long periods at a time on hard surfacesWear ill-fitting shoes without proper support or cushioningHave a history of injury around the heel How Can You Treat Heel Pain? Pain in the back of the heel is generally amenable to non-conservative treatment, such as the following methods: Rest Medication Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Ice Cold treatment can address pain and inflammation. Less activity Activity modification so that the foot bears less load can reduce strain. Corticosteroid injections Cortisone (steroid) injections can ease pain and swelling. Physical therapy This will incorporate exercises (mobilization, strengthening, stretching), massage, ultrasound, and several other physiotherapy techniques. Physiotherapy intervention aims to stretch the tendon, strengthen the foot muscles, and relieve pain. Alignment correction Taping and splinting can relieve pain and stretch the foot, respectively. Orthotic devices Orthotics are useful in relieving pain at the back of the heel bone. Compared to OTC inserts, custom orthotics are more useful in this regard. Upstep provides custom-made orthotics that support the ankle and relieve pain. Proper footwear Wearing appropriate shoes that are properly fitting, cushioned, and have heel lifts reduces stress on the Achilles tendon. Should You Call Your Doctor? It’s okay to first try some of the home remedies discussed above when you first notice heel pain. However, if pain persists after a few weeks of treatment, you must consult a doctor promptly. Your doctor will help you determine the location of the pain in your heel and identify the likeliest cause. Treatment is much easier once there is an accurate diagnosis. Otherwise, it can lead to untold complications.