Weakness in the foot can cause falling arches, bunions and hammer toes. These are potentially very painful. However, you can get a lot of relief by a few easy exercises.
There are two arches in the foot. One runs across the foot on the bottom at the joints where the toes join the foot. The other is at right angles to the first and runs from the heel to the base of the first toe. These arches are supported by ligaments and muscles. There is not much you can do to strengthen ligaments, but exercising the muscles that support the arch are an important method to relieve your foot pain.
When they fall, your arches stretch out and become irritated. You can get pain directly from that. But, bone spurs can also develop and they can be very painful as well.
Bunions are formed when the sideways (transverse) arch falls. Then it pushes the sides of the joints outwards where they rub against the inside of the shoes. This builds up a callous.
When the lengthwise (longitudinal) arch falls, the change in the foot pulls up the base of the toes. This puts more pressur on the bottom of the base of the toes and the tops of the middle of the toes rubs on the inside of the shoes. This will cause increased pain and callous formation.
There are muscles that attach to different parts of the arch and tend to pull it up. When you strengthen those mucles you help keep the arch up.
One easy exercise can be done while you are watching television. Simply drop a few quarters on the carpet in front of your chair and practice picking them up with your foot. This will help keep the foot muscles strong and limber.
A second exercise is also easy. That is simply trying to ‘make a fist’ with your foot. Tighten up the muscles and hold it for the count of 5 and then release. As you get stronger, hold it for longer and longer. Do repetitions. As you get stronger, you should start getting some relief.
The final exercise is a bit hard to explain, but here goes. You need to roll your foot around and then go back the other way. So, you start by pulling your foot up. Next rotate it outwards – then down. Finally rotate it inwards and go back to the starting position. The trick is to do it against resistance. That way you will be building up the muscles in your lower leg that pull up on your arches.
Another type of pain may seem like it is causes by falling arches, but is actually from the tendons in the lower leg being tight.
You can improve this type of pain by stretching out the back of the lower leg. Do this by putting your foot up on a low stool while you are standing. Hold the foot so the big toe is pointed straight up. When you are in this position, pull your foot up so your big toe is trying to point toward your head. You should feel stretching in the back of your leg. After doing this for a few days, you should start feeling some relief of your foot pain.
Even if you are not having pain, these are great exercises to do to keep you from starting to get pain. So, you should be doing them even if you don’t have foot pain right now.
If you still have pain after doing these exercises, you may need some arch supports in your shoes. If your problem is mild, you can buy them at any drug store. If the arches are very bad, your doctor may need to prescribe special ones.
Give the exercises a try. But if you still have no improvement in your pain after a week or so, you should see your doctor.
Dr. Ron McCluskey has been treating health problems for over twenty years. He has done volunteer work in several foreign countries including Mexico and Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia. As an emergency room physician, he treats many with foot pain. Come to Exercises for Relief of Foot Pain [http://practicalexercise.com/Exercises_for_Relief_of_Foot_Pain.html] for some more great tips on exercise.