Walking is the easiest and most accessible way to stay fit and healthy. However, sometimes it can also cause discomfort and foot pain after walking.
Although overuse is the most common cause of occasional aches, an underlying medical condition or injury can also be a reason for that pain.
So why do your feet hurt? How to avoid foot pain? Read on, and you will find the answers.
5 Common Causes of Foot Pain After Walking
1) Plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of plantar fascia – a solid tissue that connects your toes to your heel bone. It is the most frequent cause of sharp heel pain in adults.
Foot pain caused by plantar fasciitis occurs with the first steps in the morning and gradually decreases as you get up and move. However, it might return when you stand up after sitting or after long periods of standing.
This medical condition is pretty common in runners and people with obesity. Besides, wearing shoes with inadequate support also increases the risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
The bowstring-shaped plantar fascia works as a windlass mechanism that provides support through the arch of the foot.
Excess tension and stress can injure it, causing irritation and inflammation of the tissue. Still, in many cases, the cause of plantar fasciitis remains unknown.
As was mentioned above, people with this disease usually suffer from stubbing foot pain after walking. It starts with your first steps after awakening and decreases over time.
The following factors can increase the risk of developing plantar fasciitis:
- Excess weight puts extra stress on your foot.
- This medical condition is most prevalent between the ages of 40-60 years.
- Jobs that require standing. Teachers, factory workers, and other people who spend their working day standing or walking on hard surfaces can injure the plantar fascia.
- Foot mechanics. A high arch, flat feet, and even an abnormal walking pattern can affect the weight distribution, putting more stress on your plantar fascia.
- Some types of exercise. Aerobic dance, ballet dancing, long-distance running, and several other activities that place too much stress on your heel can contribute to the occurrence of plantar fasciitis.
Neglecting plantar fasciitis might lead to chronic heel pain, causing back, hip, or knee problems. Therefore, you need to consult your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
Wearing special arch-supporting shoes or taking part in therapy sessions can reduce the pain, making walking more comfortable.
Other treatment methods include:
- anti-inflammatory medications
- stretching and strengthening exercises
- ice massage
- corticosteroid injections for short-term relief
2) Turf toe
Turf toe is another common cause of foot pain after walking. It often causes swelling, bruising, and pain that worsens when the big toe is hyperextended. Sometimes, surgery is the only way to relieve the pain and correct the damage to the toe.
During the physical examination, a doctor will test the range of motion in your toe to choose the best treatment plan. Therapy usually includes icing, resting, and elevating your toe. It will also reduce joint stiffness and decrease pain.
Tendinitis, or an inflammation of the Achilles tendon, can cause severe foot pain after walking or exercising. People with tendinitis may experience stiffness or tenderness in the foot, as well as an ache in the heel.
Before you start treatment, a physical exam is needed to test for tenderness, swelling, and pain on and around the Achilles tendon. Doctors may recommend taking painkillers, such as naproxen or ibuprofen.
Physical therapy exercises and special shoes with arch support will also help reduce strain on your Achilles tendon and relieve pain. Sometimes, however, surgery is necessary.
Metatarsalgia is a medical condition in which the ball of your foot becomes inflamed and painful. This disease also causes numbness in the toes, burning pain, and the feeling of a small object being in your shoe.
Metatarsalgia often resembles several other medical conditions, such as Morton’s neuroma. X-ray is usually performed to diagnose this disease and determine potential underlying causes.
Doctors recommend resting your feet as often as possible, especially if your job requires you to stand up all day. You should also change your footwear to a more supportive option, such as these shoes by Gecko Man. Besides, doctors recommend doing the following exercises:
You can do postural exercises to encourage a strong posture and strengthen your feet. Stand on a slant board while doing everyday activities, such as brushing the teeth or shaving. Even a few minutes’ exercises are good for you.
You can relieve metatarsalgia and reduce the pain by performing active stretches:
- Place the central part of your foot on a step and lower your heel as low as possible.
- Keep this position for as long as possible.
- Repeat this exercise 20 times.
- Try to stretch regularly, at least 3 times a day.
5) Morton’s neuroma
Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition, which involves a thickening of the tissue around the nerves that lead to your toes. It often causes sharp, burning pain and numbness in the foot.
Stinging and burning sensations typically occur in the toes, while the pain tends to appear in the ball of your foot. To diagnose Morton’s neuroma, imaging studies, such as ultrasound or an X-Ray, are usually taken.
The treatment consists of wearing shoes with arch support. Doctors may also recommend surgery to remove the nerve or reduce the pressure on it.
When To See a Doctor
If you have a more serious disease, it might be a good idea to see your healthcare provider before trying home remedies for foot pain after walking.
You may have developed a condition that requires medical intervention. See your doctor if you:
- have continuous swelling of feet and ankles
- are not able to walk on your foot
- severe pain in your feet
- flu-like symptoms combined with foot pain
- have an open wound in your foot
- feel numbness or tingling on the bottom of your feet
- suspect that you have broken a bone
- have foot pain that does not go away after trying home remedies
Besides, you need to contact your doctor immediately if you experience any abnormalities with your feet or have diabetes. It could be a sign of a severe condition.
How to Reduce Foot Pain After Walking
Whether you are exercising, standing, or walking around, your feet do a lot of work. There are numerous ways to relax tired feet, and you may combine them to relieve the pain faster.
1) Get a foot massage
Foot massage is a perfect way to improve blood circulation and reduce soreness. Hold your heel with one hand. Pull your toes apart and bend them back and forth to massage them.
Rub and knead the bottom of the foot. Repeat these movements, gently increasing pressure.
To make it easier to massage your foot, you may lubricate the skin with massage oil or lotion. Besides, you can use foot rollers or other massage products to massage your feet.
2) Take a pain reliever
Various over-the-counter medications can help you reduce inflammation and pain. You can try taking naproxen sodium, ibuprofen, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, as well as analgesics, to relieve the foot pain after walking.
You need to consult a doctor to find out how long you must take these types of medications to completely relieve inflammation and get rid of long-lasting pain.
3) Take a foot bath
A warm foot bath can reduce swelling and relieve the sore muscles in your feet. You can also add some healing salt to the water to reduce the pain faster.
Fill a basin with enough warm water to cover your feet up to the ankles. Then put 2-3 tbsp of the salt into a bath. Soak your feet in this mixture for 10 to 15 minutes.
4) Wear night splints
Using night splints is another cost-effective and useful way to relieve foot pain after walking. They keep your feet in a locked position while you are sleeping, providing constant passive stretching of the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon. For this reason, night splints are often used to treat plantar fasciitis and other foot conditions.
5) Ice your feet
You can apply ice to your feet to relieve inflammation that causes soreness. Roll your feet on a frozen water bottle or fill a plastic bag with some ice. Ice the injured area several times a day for 5-10 minutes to reduce foot pain.
6) Practice strengthening exercises
You need to keep your feet strong and flexible to eliminate foot pain. Therefore, try to stay active and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. You can practice resisting exercises and use resistance bands to prevent inflammation and strengthen your feet.
7) Do some stretches
Stretching exercises can help you improve the range of motion of your feet and ankles and prevent foot pain after walking.
Moreover, you need to ensure your muscles are stretched enough before practicing resistance exercises. Here are several exercises to promote foot flexibility and prevent cramping:
- Sit down and extend your legs. Point your toes toward the body and away from it. Next, move them around. Repeat this exercise ten times.
- Stretch your feet by shifting the weight from your heels to your toes. Lift the back and front of your feet off the ground while in the standing position.
- If you live next to the beach, take off your shoes and walk in the sand. It will massage your feet and strengthen your toes, providing good foot conditioning.
8) Switch your shoes
An incorrect shoe size, the wrong style of shoe, or wearing shoes beyond their lifespan can lead to foot pain after walking. Keep in mind:
- Your feet can spread out during your life, changing in size.
- Footwear without proper arches (like high heels or flip-flops) can harm your feet.
- Shoes usually wear out after 500 or 600 miles and no longer provide the support you need.
Consider buying a pair of new, well-fitting shoes that provide proper arches to help your aching feet. Besides, it is crucial to wear footwear that works for whatever activity you are engaging in.
9) Buy footwear with arch supports
They can improve overall foot functioning and eliminate foot pain after walking, giving your feet a new and youthful vigor.
What the Right Shoes Can Do For Your Feet
The right shoes:
- Fit well
Ensure you have at least 0.5 in at the end of your shoes. Besides, they must be long enough and wide enough to fit your feet. The right footwear should feel snug but not too tight.
- Feel comfortable
The right shoes must feel immediately comfortable from the first wear.
- Support the foot
Your shoes should provide proper support to your feet.
Make Sure the Shoe Fits
No matter what shoes you choose, ensure they fit correctly. Follow these tips for getting the right fit:
- Try on different pairs of shoes.
- Measure both feet in socks to determine their current size.
- Buy shoes late in the day.
- Ensure the shoes are wide enough.
- Do not assume your shoes will stretch over time.
- Make sure there is enough room between the big toe and the shoe’s tip.
- Stand and walk around the store in the shoes to see if they are comfortable.
Foot pain after walking can be hard to deal with. It makes life terrible, limiting your ability to enjoy your favorite recreational activities. Still, there are numerous ways to overcome that pain and return to an active lifestyle.
Keep in mind that it takes some time for your feet to feel better. Contact your doctor if the pain does not go away or interferes with your daily life, as it may be a sign of something more serious. Also, you need to call your doctor immediately if you have diabetes.