You’re likely to walk more than 100,000 miles over the course of your lifetime. That’s like circling the earth four times at the equator. But as important as your feet are, it’s all too easy to neglect them -- until they start to hurt.
You can take some steps to avoid getting foot pain, though. Here are seven ways to support your feet, so they will continue to support you.
As with other subjective experiences, such as love, fear, or anger, there's no way to objectively measure pain. We asked Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, chief of the Pain Management Division and associate professor of anesthesia at Stanford University School of Medicine, to explain the unpleasant sensation we all feel in different ways.
Your feet bear the weight of your entire body, and the more weight they support, the harder they need to work.
“The best way to prevent foot pain is to keep your weight down,” says Paul Talusan, MD, clinical assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Michigan.
You don't have to carry a lot of extra weight to feel an impact on your feet and ankles. As little as 20 pounds can change the way your foot functions, increase the force on your feet, and trigger pain.
If foot pain is keeping you from exercising as part of your weight-loss efforts, try a low-impact sport like swimming.
2. Boost Your Flexibility
Your calf muscles may tighten as you get older, which puts more stress on the balls of your feet.
“Stretching your calves on a regular basis can go a long way toward preventing foot pain,” Talusan says.
He recommends the following stretch at least three times a day:
Stand with your toes on a step and your heels off the edge.
Slowly lower your heels down and hold for 10 seconds before lifting your heels to the starting position.
Repeat five to 10 times. Don't force your heel farther than it wants to go. If the movement is too much for both feet at once, do one foot at a time.
3. Kick Your High-Heel Habit
Heels might upgrade your outfit, but they can wreak havoc on your feet. One study found that it takes just 1 hour and 6 minutes of wearing them for the pain to kick in.
“Squeezing your feet into pointy-toed heels can lead to a laundry list of ailments, from ingrown toenails, bunions, and blisters, to shortened calf muscles, back pain, and deformed toes,” says Talusan. “I strongly recommend that women not wear them.”