Our feet are quite complex as they are comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints, 100 ligaments and 20 muscles in each. Foot pain is quite common with a multitude of possible causes. There are a disproportionate number of nerve endings in our feet compared to their size, similar to how sensitive our face and hands are. Health care professionals such as podiatrists, physiotherapists, and RMT’s, can help assess the specific irritating factors and mechanisms of foot pain. It is important to fully assess and create a personalized treatment plan to be safe and effective. In some cases, pain may be caused by a stiff high arched foot with tightness in the calves and intrinsic muscles of the foot. For these clients, it may be effective to roll the bottom of the foot on a tennis ball for a few minutes to warm the tissues up. In addition, massage can help release the specific muscular trigger points and improve mobility of a rigid foot. On the other end of the spectrum, foot pain may be due to an instability and over-pronation. In this case it may be appropriate to strengthen the specific muscles that are inhibited and weak, the photo below illustrates toe spreaders that are designed with this purpose in mind. To properly prevent and treat foot pain it depends upon the causes and underlying factors. It may be as simple as releasing the tight muscles and strengthening the weaker ones. At the end of the day a foot massage always feels good!
The warm summer weather is great for ditching your shoes and wearing sandals everywhere. I find flip flop style sandals are very popular with my massage clients, but they may be the primary cause of their foot, knee, hip, and even back pain. Research has shown flip flops alter normal walking gait by forcing the ankle to flex more on heel strike in order to keep the sandal on. There is also a lack of stability through the arch with a flip flop and the small muscles in the foot instinctively contract and tighten. As a result the deep calf muscles engage and sometimes cramp up. With the altered movement pattern the knee, hip and low back take on extra pressure. To combat this flip flop conundrum, I would recommend wearing them only for short periods of time and seeing an RMT for help. Massage is a very effective treatment that helps to release the tight muscles that can become adhered and cause pain. The calves are sensitive areas to massage, but I use myofascial release techniques that are not painful and yet release the trigger points and adhesions. Massage helps restore pain free movement patterns so you can get back out there to run around in the sunshine!