Our feet work hard! Through out our lives, each foot must carry our entire body’s weight all day, every day. With every step, these amazing structures must first provide us with a soft landing by being flexible enough to adapt to whatever surface they encounter. This could be hard flat concrete or uneven terrains such as sand or rocky slopes. Once contact has been made with the ground, the foot’s function then changes from a mobile adaptor to a rigid lever. In other words, the foot needs to then become stiff enough to propel our body into its next step. The process of becoming a more rigid structure is achieved by changes in the alignment of its many bones. This requires both muscular effort and loading of passive structures such as the foot’s many ligaments. The foot does this several thousand times a day, not to mention those of us who ask our foot to run, jump and land in our spare time.
It’s therefore not surprising that feet can ache. General aches and pains in the feet are often due to fatigue of its muscles and excessive strain on its ligaments. And when these structures begin to fail, increased load falls upon other structures. Then everything begins to hurt.
The treatment of aching feet first requires an accurate assessment of the problem. Many factors need to be considered but essentially the problem will stem from the simple fact that the foot is not dealing with the workload you have asked of it. It may be a new activity or increase in current activity that the tissues have been unable
to adapt to in the time frame you have asked of them. But other things can effect changes in workload also. These could include a change of footwear, the wearing out of existing footwear or increased bodyweight.
Your podiatrist will be able to help work through the reasons behind aching feet and help manage the load on them. This might include advice regarding activity modification, footwear advice and orthoses. The latter are specially designed and prescribed shoe inserts that lessen the forces that are experienced in the foot. With a more manageable work load, the foot’s tissues are able to recover and the aching will abate.