Nearly everyone experiences foot pain or sore feet. In fact, an estimated 75 percent of people will experience foot problems at some point in their lives.1 Foot pain can strike when you least suspect it, occurring most commonly in the balls of the feet, the arches, the heels and the toes.
What causes this pain, and what can be done about it? Fortunately, with few exceptions, there are a number of things that can be done to ease the discomfort of foot pain and get you back on your feet.
Causes of Foot Pain
Why do your feet hurt? There are many common reasons for foot pain, including wearing poorly fitted shoes and standing all day on hard surfaces. Some common medical issues can also cause it, including arthritis, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, and corns.2 If you have a specific foot issue causing you pain, it is important to address it quickly, so the healing process can begin.
When to See a Doctor
Though most foot pain is harmless, it could be serious in some instances. The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor immediately if your feet show signs of infection, if your foot pain is severe, if you have an open wound, or if you can’t walk or put weight on your foot. 3
Otherwise, these nine at-home remedies can help combat foot pain that isn’t too severe. Keep these remedies in mind for the next time your feet are hurting.
1. Stretch Your Feet
Stretching is a tried-and-true way to ease muscle pain. To loosen up your feet, try pointing and flexing your toes and ankles a few times. Repeat the process periodically. Another good stretch for feet is to raise and lower heels off of the ground while in a standing position. To strengthen arches, use your toes to grab a towel or other object on the floor, pulling the object towards you. 4
Relief from foot pain can often be found through massage, which can increase circulation and relax tired foot muscles. To try this at home, gently rub your whole foot, concentrating on problem areas. Many people use lotion or oil for foot massages. To massage deeper, use your knuckles to press and rub into the muscles of your foot. 5
If you also want aromatherapy benefits, many essential oils are great for massaging and relaxing feet. Examples include peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender, and thyme. If you’re going to use essential oils, be sure to dilute them in a carrier, such as vegetable, coconut, or sweet almond oil. Use a 2 percent dilution, which is about 12 drops of essential oil to one fluid ounce of carrier.
3. Proper Shoes
Women are four times more likely to have foot pain than men. 6 This may be because women choose to wear high heels and other uncomfortable shoes. A study published in the Arthritis Care and Research journal showed that wearing high heeled shoes – even in the past – can contribute to foot pain. 7
To prevent discomfort, choose comfortable shoes that are cushioned to absorb shock as you walk. Also, shoes should fit correctly. When shoes fit too loosely or too tightly, foot pain and problems can occur.
4. Shoe Inserts
Shoe inserts designed for your specific type of foot pain can help. These are available over the counter in many stores. Common types of inserts include those for arch support and heel cushioning, as well as foot cushions and insoles.
For more serious cases of foot pain, consider visiting a podiatrist for custom-made orthotics to place inside your shoes. Studies have shown that this type of insert can treat foot pain associated with a variety of medical conditions. 8
5. Soak Your Feet
Many people enjoy soaking their feet for relaxation and pain relief. Epsom salt can relieve foot pain caused by swelling. You can also soak your feet in water mixed with vinegar or essential oils. 9 Use lukewarm water, and soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Over-the-Counter Pain Relief
For occasional foot pain, you may want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or aspirin. Topical pain relief gels and lotions are also available for muscle pain. 10
7. Heat and Ice
Athletes have long used the powers of heat and ice to soothe tired muscles after a game or workout. As a general rule, ice is for new injuries and heat is for older ones. 11 Ice reduces swelling, while heat increases blood flow. If your feet have just started hurting, try using an ice pack. For feet that habitually hurt, a heated compress may be a better option.
8. Elevate Your Feet
If your foot pain is caused by swelling, elevating your feet may bring some relief. This is because elevating your feet reduces blood flow to the affected area. 12 Try propping your feet up on some pillows while you’re relaxing at home. (Bonus tip: Make sure you do this after long flights, as sitting down for hours upon hours can cause swelling in your legs.)
9. Compression Socks
For people who often experience foot pain due to swelling, compression socks may help. Compression socks improve blood flow in the legs and feet. 13 They are readily available at most drug stores and come in light, medium, and heavy weights.
Foot pain is annoying, but you don’t have to put up with it. Keep these home remedies in mind the next time foot pain strikes, and your feet will thank you.
Looking for more foot care tips? Keep reading:
1.”Foot Facts | Foot.Com – The Most Comprehensive Source Of Foot Health And Foot Care Information (Foot Pain, Heel Pain)”. Foot.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
2.”Foot Pain Causes – Mayo Clinic”. Mayo Clinic. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
3.”Foot Pain When To See A Doctor – Mayo Clinic”. Mayo Clinic. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
4.”Exercises To Help Prevent Plantar Fasciitis – Mayo Clinic”. Mayo Clinic. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
5. Publications, Harvard. “9 Ways To Fix Foot Pain – Harvard Health”. Harvard Health. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
6. Nirenberg, Dr. “Why Women Have More Foot, Knee, Hip, & Back Pain (And What You Can Do About It)”. EmpowHER. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
7. Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew Seniorlife. “High-Heels Linked To Heel And Ankle Pain”. ScienceDaily. N.p., 2009. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
8. Blackwell, Wiley. “Foot Pain? Custom-Made Insoles Offer Relief”. ScienceDaily. N.p., 2008. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
9. Christopher Travers, MS et al. “6 Best Fixes For Pain And Swelling In Your Feet And Ankles”. Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
10. Publications, Harvard. “9 Ways To Fix Foot Pain – Harvard Health”. Harvard Health. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
11. Laskowski, Edward. “Which Is Better For Relieving Tendinitis Pain — Ice Or Heat?”. N.p., 2014. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
12. Danciger, Dr., DPM Harvey R. Danciger, and DPM Harvey R. Danciger. “Why Elevate An Injury?”. Dr. Harvey R. Danciger. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
13. stockings, Compression. “Compression Stockings: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia”. Medlineplus.gov. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.