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Have You Ever Experienced Pain Under The Balls of Your Feet?

Posted Feb 24 2012 10:30am

Trying to be active with foot pain is almost impossible.  Walking hurts, running is out, can’t put weight on a pedal to cycle.  Exercise comes to a screeching halt and the throbbing reminder that something’s not quite right becomes the sole focus (no pun intended).  So you sit, and you eat, and you wait…. 

Are you wondering when the foot pain will go away and what you can do to get your pain-free feet back for a normal, happy, active life?

My sweetie has been hobbling around now for more than a week with pain under the ball of his foot.  He’s pretty sure it happened during a night out at the bowling alley.  (Who knew bowling was strenuous enough to cause foot pain!)  But when you move and bend the toe and ankle joints in directions, or a range of motion beyond what they are used to moving in, things can change for better or worse.  In his case, at the moment – it’s for the worse.

Pain under the ball of the foot can cause swelling, the joints are inflamed and you’re pounding them into the ground with every step you take. 

Foot pain will also change your gait.  Attempting to stay off the ball of the foot because it hurts will have you standing on the outside of your foot, toe-ing out to walk, and shifting your weight when you stand (and sit) to the healthier foot.  Over time you can expect to add knee, hip, and back pain to your list from standing and moving with poor body alignment.

  1. First Plan of Action – Get an appointment with your doctor to rule out any  broken bones or serious medical issues.
  2. Consult with a Podiatrist.  Since Podiatrists are foot care specialists, they may have more insights to help you heal than your general practice doc.
  3. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation… traditional ways to manage pain and swelling based on your doctors recommendations can always be beneficial.
  4. Stay off Your Feet.  It’s challenging to have a life and stay off your feet, but crutches may help keep you from putting too much weight on your foot to give it a rest.
  5. Evaluate your Foot Mechanics:  (or have a Podiatrist, or other foot-care expert take a look at your foot.)

I took a peek at the bottom of my sweeties foot and he’s got a huge callous under the ball of his foot on the 2nd toe.  But it’s soft as a baby’s butt under his big toe joint.  Which tells me he never rolls through the big toe when he walks and has an excessive amount of pressure on the 2nd & 3rd toes all the time!

I also noticed that because the muscles of his feet are tight, his toes are very stiff.  It is easier to bend the toes backwards (flex) more than forwards (point).  When the toes flex it drops the ball of the foot joints closer to the floor creating more pressure on these bones.  If the toes are so stiff that when you roll through the foot to walk you never point them in the other direction (to push off the ground)  the ball of foot joints never get a moment of relief or learn to bend both ways.  Not only does this jam the toes into the foot, but it jams the foot into the ankle.  So the whole foot now has problems with functional mobility.

It’s the pointing action of the toes that helps to strengthen the arches of the feet,
stretches out the top of the foot,
and propels us through space when we walk and run.

For most people, the toes are stiff.  But it may be worse if you’re experiencing foot pain.  If you have stiff toes, hammer toes, flat feet, fallen arches, or chronic ball of foot pain, the toes may be spending too much time flexed up and need to learn how to point down to help decrease the pressure and pain under the ball of the feet.

Here’s the good news.  There are lots of easy foot stretching and strengthening exercises that you can do to help your feet feel better.  If the bones of our toes and feet aren’t in the proper alignment to function well it’s because the muscles are tight and/or weak.  As with any other muscle in the body – this can change with regular exercise. 

Awareness of your current habits is critical because these habits will need to change for you to see improvements.  Gaining the proper balance of strength and flexibility in your feet with exercise will insure that in time your ball of foot pain will diminish and hopefully resolve completely.

To start learning easy foot fitness exercises you can do at home, checkout the foot-care exercises in Fantastic Feet! Exercises to Strengthen the Ankles, Arches, and Toes .  You’ll also find foot fitness tips and videos with some of the Fantastic Feet exercises at http://Youtube.com/centerworks .

It’s NOT OK to live with foot pain, and there are things you can do to make it better.  Don’t let ball of foot pain, or any foot pain put a damper on your exercise program or active, healthy lifestyle.  Take action today to ensure healthy pain-free feet forever! 

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