Foot and ankle pain can stem from a variety of sources and conditions, but the top two we treat in the clinic are ankle sprains/strains and plantar fasciitis. This blog post shares 5 foot and ankle pain solutions with details about the common injuries throughout!
1. Foot “Posture”
Believe it or not, there is actually a ‘correct’ foot posture. The foot and ankle begin your gait cycle and are crucial to weight distribution. When you are standing, your weight should be distributed evenly between each foot + each foot should act as a tripod to distribute your weight [picture below depicts this]. When we don’t use this tripod distribution, then our ankle joint takes more of the load by rolling inward or outward. The increased stress on the ankle joint can lead to increased laxity of the ligaments [hello sprained ankles]! This is also one of the most common ways ankle immobility can lead to other joint problems up the movement chain, like the knees and hips.
2. Adjustments + Soft Tissue Work
Adjustments in the foot/ankle typically revolve around mobilizing the tibiotalar joint [the ankle joint]. We also assess the motion of the small individual bones in the foot. Many muscles in our lower leg attach to the base of the foot, so when they are tight they can pull on these bones. Soft tissue work is also essential... and it feels amazing!! We focus on the surrounding musculature on all sides of the lower leg to help improve range of motion and function. With plantar fasciitis - having the tight inflamed tendon worked on helps increase blood flow / lengthening to reduce the pain + inflammation!
3. Stretching and Strengthening
To know exactly what muscle group to work on, it’s best to get injuries evaluated. Plantar fasciitis causes pain on the foot surface because the elastic band on the bottom of our foot becomes inflamed. With an ankle sprain or strain, a muscle or ligament has been overstretched or even torn. Each condition involves restoring the condition of the tissue which first starts with reducing any inflammation [and any causes of pain - see tip 5]. Then we can focus on lengthening tight tissues + strengthening the muscles involved in rolled ankles that may have caused the instability in the first place!
4. Shoe Choices and Orthotics
Probably one of the more obvious solutions for foot and ankle pain is to look at the shoes you are wearing regularly. We all love a good heel to complete an outfit, but they are not ideal for the biomechanics of your foot, ankle, knees or hips. Also, be sure to be wearing supportive shoes during exercise/activity + update them regularly! In the upcoming summer months, you may want to look into sandals with arch support like Birkenstocks [it's our summer clinic shoe!] Orthotics are shoe inserts that help address poor foot posture. They may be a good option for you, especially if you are someone that struggles with the tripod foot position!
The "itis" part in plantar fasciitis literally means inflammation. Inflammation is the body's natural protective response to injury! This process brings blood flow to the area so you can heal. The problem with inflammation is if it occurs for too long (chronic) we start to see other problems arise! The first helpful trick to reduce inflammation is....epsom salt!! We love this because it helps with global inflammation - so make yourself a cozy little foot bath and let those feet feel good! Alternatively you could use an ice pack or a frozen golf ball / lacrosse ball to work the tissue under the foot. Kinesiotaping is our final tip! This tape works to reduce inflammation because it lifts the top layer of the skin to aid in lymphatic drainage - this improves circulation and reduces inflammation! See the link below of how to apply this tape yourself at home!
*** As always don't hesitate to reach out with questions /// thoughts surrounding this topic! ***