What’s Causing Your Foot Pain, and What to Do About It

Published by Shauna Burchett, OTR/L on

Foot PainGuess what? Many people in America have suffered from some sort of foot problem. From athlete’s foot to a torn Achilles’ tendon, it seems like there is no escape. Foot pain does not discriminate, it will get you whether you are a world class athlete or “professional” TV viewer! I am going to talk about some causes of foot pain and how to prevent it so you are able to live your life on happy feet.

What Causes Foot Pain?

In order to understand why foot pain happens, you need to know the anatomy of your foot first.

There are 24 bones in each foot, and every joint connects together by specific ligaments and soft tissues. One major structure that holds your feet together is called plantar fascia. Plantar fascia is like a suspension bridge that connects your toes and heel (calcaneus) together. Its shape alters slightly depending on what you are doing (standing vs. running). All 24 bones have to move (slide and glide) perfectly for a functional foot. Unlike the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge, our feet aren’t flawless. That’s why we need a good pair of shoes.

The Importance of Good Shoes

Shoes have become an essential element in our daily life. From ten bucks to a grand, you can get a pair of sneakers in whatever style you like. Unfortunately, most people have forgotten the reason why they wear shoes: they are created to protect your feet! Buying a pair of shoes is more than just shopping for a famous French designer, or finding Lebron James 45-point game Nikes.

Shoes that don’t fit affect your whole body. Your body will compensate for foot pain by changing the way you walk. Eventually, that compensation increases the stress on your knees, hips and back and can cause your whole body to ache. I’ve seen many of my clients suffer because of improper foot wear.


How To Pick the Right Shoes

I am not trying to put fear in your life. There are ways out! First of all, you need to know what you do with your shoes. You don’t wear sandals in a construction zone, right? If you want to buy a pair of walking shoe, make sure your shoes do not provide too much arch support (eg. basketball shoe) because it could weaken your ankle and cause more problems in the future.

Second, you need to know your shoe size. Shoes that are too small increase pressure on your foot, inhibit the mobility of those 24 wonderful bones of your foot, send dysfunction up through your body, and of course cause foot pain. Conversely, shoes that are too big allow friction between the footwear and your feet, which could cause skin break down. We also have to change the way we stand and walk to keep sloppy footwear supporting us correctly, which again creates dysfunction in our stride and posture.

Third, you need an adequate arch support in and out of your shoes. It helps to support your “suspension bridge” in your feet. Make sure your shoe does not easily distort or deform by twisting it front and back. With these simple guidelines you can get shoes that will keep you “walking on sunshine” for a long time!

Synergy Healthcare offers physical therapy, occupational therapy and massage therapy in Spokane Valley, WA. Our highly trained therapists are ready to get you back on track fast! We try to prepare helpful articles that can help enrich your life. Have a question you want answered? Contact us for more information.

Shauna Burchett, OTR/L

Shauna Burchett, OTR/L is a skilled occupational therapist and the owner of Synergy Healthcare. She graduated from the University of Alberta in 1993 with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Shauna began her career as an occupational therapist specializing in traumatic head injuries. She has also worked in skilled nursing facilities specializing in long and short term geriatric rehabilitation. Shauna has been in private practice since 1998.