National Foot Health Awareness Month is upon us! Join us in celebrating by getting to know your feet a little better.
Did you know 75 percent of Americans will experience foot health problems at some point in their lives?1 From minor aches and pains caused by overuse, to extreme conditions that ruin your quality of life and require surgery to fix, the severity of foot ailments can vary greatly. Luckily, foot health has come a long way over the years with greater awareness and education around the care of your feet, the development of products like shoe insoles and braces to relieve pain and discomfort, and better and safer procedures to correct foot problems.
We here at PowerStep, unsurprisingly, take a great interest in your feet—and your quality of life in connection to them. A huge part of this passion is sharing information with people. Getting educated is the number 1 way we can give our feet everything they need. If we don't know how to take care of our feet, then we usually will already be in pain before considering a visit to the podiatrist. But with knowledge, we can know about arch support, and good footwear practices, and prevent a lot of issues before they even become a problem. Feel free to check out our Resources Page, where we host links to foot care topics, blog posts, info graphics, and more.
You're still reading—That's great! You rock, and your feet say thank you! Let’s take a deeper dive into a foot’s anatomy, and see how you can care for and protect your feet.
The Remarkable Anatomy of Your Foot
Get this: Almost one quarter of your body’s bones are contained in your feet! There are 28 bones, 30 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. All these different parts must be at the top of their game and work together in order to help you stand, walk, run, and jump.
Muscles - a strong foundation
The 20 muscles in your foot are like the foundation. These muscles give your foot its shape, and provide a full support system for your body and the ability to move around.
Tendons - connecting muscle to bone
Your muscles can’t do their job without working alongside the bones. This is where your tendons come in, serving as a matchmaker to connect the muscles to the bones and ligaments to form and maintain the foot’s arch. The star of the show is the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscle to the heel. This tendon is one of the main reasons you’re able to run, jump, stand on your toes and perform other activities like climbing.
Ligaments - from heel to toe
The ligaments give your foot balance, strength, and stability. Your medial and lateral ligaments on the inside and outside of your foot help the foot move up and down, while the plantar fascia ligament forms the arch to allow the foot to walk. Since the plantar fascia ligament is responsible for your arch from the heel to your toes, this is why you feel pain at the bottom of your foot near your heel when the plantar fascia is strained.
Current State of Foot Health in the U.S.
Have you ever stopped to consider how much wear and tear you put on your feet from the walking and running you do every day? By the age of 70, the average person will have walked the equivalent of 4 times around the globe! Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, promoting greater circulation and overall well-being, but the problem is how we take care of our feet after so much stress and fatigue. That's why it's easy to understand this next part: of the 75% of Americans experiencing foot problems, only a small percentage were actually born with foot conditions. The majority of foot health concerns are caused by lack of proper care, neglect, and other health conditions like arthritis, diabetes, and circulatory disorders. More awareness and taking the time to care for your feet can help you spend less time in the podiatrist’s office and more time on your feet walking, running, and participating in the activities you enjoy.
Ways to Keep Your Feet Healthy and Strong
Your feet are truly amazing, working hard to keep you up and moving day-to-day. They help doctors work 12+ hour days without stopping, they help athletes run marathons and play sports, and act as a mode of transportation to get us from point A to point B. With all we’re capable of doing, shouldn’t we be taking care of our feet more?
First and foremost, always see a doctor if experiencing severe foot pain. Just looking for mild to moderate foot pain relief? There are options. Here are some natural foot pain remedies when trying to avoid medication.
Strengthen and relax your feet with exercises.
Stronger foot muscles can help prevent pain, and certain motions can help manage the pain associated with conditions like plantar fasciitis. Try these exercises for the feet:
- Freeze a bottle of water and roll the foot back and forth over the bottle, pressing gently. Do this for 10 minutes or so, multiple times per day.
- Stand on the edge of one stair and lower the heel to stretch the calf. Repeat for both feet, making sure to hold on to a railing for balance.
- Using the toes, pick up a towel or a few marbles or other small objects off the floor.
Use the right insole in your shoes.
Most shoes come with just a thin sock liner on the sole of the shoe, which doesn’t provide any support and offers very little, if any, cushioning. A PowerStep shoe insole adds arch support and extra cushioning and can often mean the difference between pain and no pain in daily life. If you’ve never worn an insole and aren’t sure what level of support and cushioning you need, check out our famous Insole Finder to get help choosing what’s best for you.
Wear the right kind of shoes.
No matter how committed you may be to fashion, if you’re regularly wearing high heels, ballet flats, platforms, flip flops or just about any shoe with a pointed toe, then you’re putting your feet at risk for pain. Heels, platforms and pointy-toed shoes force the feet into unnatural positions and limit the way your feet can move as you walk. Flimsy flats and flip flops offer no support to your feet at all. If you’re looking for easy foot pain relief, try wearing wide-toed shoes and sneakers as much as possible. For your down-time, check out PowerStep Slippers, Sandals, and Slides - all the comfort, plus the patented PowerStep arch support built in to the footbed.
Get shoes that are properly sized.
You might be surprised to learn that one of the most common foot pain causes is actually wearing wrong-sized shoes. We often think it's just a thing for kids to be sized before buying shoes, but adults need to be sized too, maybe just not as regularly as the fast-growing children. It’s important to make sure you’re actually buying shoes that are the right size for your feet. Have someone who knows what they're doing (i.e. a shoe store employee!) measure your feet to be sure you’re not accidentally causing pain somewhere down the road by getting the wrong shoes.
Use a night sock.
One effective heel pain treatment is to sleep in a night sock. This helps keep your foot in a neutral position at night and provides a gentle stretch to the calf muscle as well as the soft tissues of the foot and ankle to alleviate pain due to plantar fasciitis and Achilles Tendonitis. Other braces and splits are available for further stretching and pain relief.
Rest your feet.
This advice may seem impossible, but it’s extremely important to take the stress off your feet when you’ve suffered an injury. Pushing through the pain and continuing your normal routine can make things even worse. When you have a sore heel or foot, as much as you can, reduce your activity, and at the very least restrict high-impact exercise such as running. While resting, elevate your feet with some pillows under your legs.
Following this advice can help alleviate many foot pain problems. Remember, however, that if you’re suffering from severe pain, or if the pain persists, you should see a podiatrist to determine if medical intervention is necessary for relief. Foot pain can be a sign of a serious condition and should not be ignored.