I get a lot of people talking to me about sore feet. It makes sense; feet are my jam.
But full disclosure – I’m not a foot doctor – I don’t diagnose or treat foot injuries. One of the first questions I ask new clients is whether they have any injuries or issues with their feet, as while Reflexology can feel wonderful to tired or achy feet it could trigger or exacerbate an injury.
But let’s get back to sore feet. Like I said I get a lot of people talking to me about their sore feet – it seems like it’s something that most of us experience. In fact 75% of Canadians will experience foot problems at some point in their lives. And about 19% of the Canadian population experiences a foot problem of some sort each year.
And it’s not surprising when you consider how complex the human foot is:
- There are 26 bones in each foot, a total of 52 bones in both feet. There are 206 bones in the body which means more than a quarter of all our bones are found in our feet.
- Thirty-three joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles, and tendons hold the structure together and allow the foot to move in a variety of ways.
- Fourteen of the 26 bones are found in the toes. Each toe has three bones, except the big toe, which has two.
- There are more nerve endings per square centimetre in the foot than any other part of the body. Our feet constantly supply us with information about the surface we walk on, without us being even being aware of it. They tell us whether the surface is hot or cold, rough or smooth, and which side it slopes to.
Did you know that the average person walks for 6.5km per day? And that while walking, each step can exert a pressure on your feet that exceeds your body weight? When you're running, that pressure can be three or four times your weight -- which adds up to a cumulative force of over 500 tons a day. And with certain sporting activities this force can even go up to seven times your bodyweight. But what’s perhaps even more surprising is that standing in one spot can be far more tiring for the feet than walking, because the same small group of muscles are being used constantly for a period of time.
Reading this it’s really no wonder our feet get sore. Feet are so important, but are often one of the most neglected areas of our body – perhaps because unlike our face or hair or teeth it’s easy to take an ‘out-of-sight-out-of-mind’ approach to them. But we really should show them more care. Our feet mirror our general health; conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet – so foot ailments can actually be the first sign of more serious medical problems. And holistic therapies such as Reflexology believe that pressure points or reflexes for every single part of the body can be mapped onto the feet, and that by stimulating these reflexes we can aid relaxation, improve your mood, release tension in your body, enhance sleep, and generally improve your sense of wellbeing.
So what should you do if you have sore feet? If the pain is significant then it is always worth having an expert take a look at them, especially if the pain was triggered by an accident or injury. This could be your family doctor or a specialist like a podiatrist/chiropodist or a physiotherapist.
Most minor foot pain from overexertion can be treated with home remedies like rest, cold therapy and gentle stretching/massage. But you should always seek immediate medical attention if you experience:
· Severe pain or swelling
· An open wound, or a wound that is oozing pus
· Signs of infection such as redness, warmth, and tenderness on your foot, or if you have a fever over 100F (37.8C)
· Inability to put weight on your foot
· If you have diabetes and have a wound that isn’t healing or is deep, red, swollen or warm to the touch
You should also schedule an office visit to an expert if you have:
· Persistent swelling that doesn’t improve after 2-5 days of home remedies
· Persistent pain that doesn’t improve after several weeks
· Burning pain, numbness or tingling involving most or all of the soles of your feet
· If the pain is widespread, involves both of the feet, or you are unsure of the source of the pain
· If you have (or suspect you have) a medical condition like diabetes
And last but not least; can Reflexology help with my foot pain? Well Reflexology is about more than treating feet – it’s a holistic therapy for balancing and aligning the entire body, but as the treatment is localized on the feet it can certainly help soothe your tired, achy feet. I see many patients with conditions such as plantar fasciitis who find that Reflexology (in combination with other treatment such as rest, stretching, and the correct footwear) gives them a lot of relief.
So once you’ve eliminated a foot problem or injury as the source of your pain I would love to help your tired feet get some relief. Drop me a line if you want to talk to me about your sore feet :)
Ontario Society of Chiropodists – 2019
Mayo Clinic – 2020