Everyone gets sore, tired feet sometimes. But chronic foot pain can be a sign of serious problems.
Poor posture, obesity, bone spurs, plantar fasciitis, sprains, arthritis, old or ill-fitting footwear, excessive exercise, blunt trauma, fibromyalgia, and other factors all contribute to the feeling that your feet won’t make it another step.
Most of us shrug off the pain. It comes and it goes, and it never seems to do any serious damage.
Also, many of us were raised to believe that real men don’t complain about pain, especially sore feet.
Complain about your feet in the locker room and someone will surely suggest that you stop wearing high-heels and buy some sensible footwear.
The teasing is all in good fun, but one result is that most of us know less than we should about the causes and treatment of foot pain. Our feet are critical. We rely on them to move us around the planet. We should know how to take care of them.
Here are some simple and effective do-it-yourself treatments for sore, tired feet.
1. A Soothing Bath
When was the last time you had a bath?
If you’re like most men, you probably have a hard time remembering. Real men take showers. We don’t have time for baths. Household bathtubs aren’t big enough for men. And baths are so time-consuming.
All of that may be true – but your sore feet would benefit from a soak. And you probably would too. Everybody needs to relax and unwind sometimes. A bonus of doing your relaxation in the tub is that you soak your body in warm water that is super-effective at reducing swelling, easing sore joints, and promoting healing.
There’s no need for scented candles or scented bubblebath. Just fill the tub with warm water. Now add a few tablespoons of Epsom salts. These minerals are effective in soothing pain and aching limbs, easing muscle strain, and reducing inflammation.
Essential oils can provide additional muscle relief as well as a bit of aromatherapy. Don’t use oils infused with basil, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, black pepper, or bay – these can cause issues with your skin. Stick with rosemary, jasmine, lavender, and sandlewood. Eucalyptus oil is especially effective, and it won’t leave you smelling afterwards.
2. A Feet-Only Workout
When your feet hurt, your natural instinct is to stay off them as much as you can, to give them a break. That’s not a crazy idea – your feet do need time to recover. But a sudden rest can lead to stiffness or cramps.
And relieving your pain in this way doesn’t help you prevent pain from returning the next time you work out.
The solution? A low-intensity workout for the feet. Yes, it sounds crazy. When your feet hurt from overwork, treat them with more work?
There is method to this madness.
Stretching and light movement are important elements of easing muscle strain when you have overworked your back or shoulders. The same principle is true of feet.
Sit in a comfortable chair and point your toes forward, stretching them as much as possible. Lift one foot and rotate it counter-clockwise at least six times. Then rotate clockwise. Do the same with the other foot. Keep this up for about 10 minutes. Do this two to three times a day.
Why does it work? Not stretching your feet or otherwise using them in an active manner can cause your calves and feet to cramp up. You might know this cramp by its familiar name: the Charley horse.
Cramps can range from a minor annoyance to something that limits your ability to walk for days at a time, so it’s good to make sure your feet are still moving and still stretching to avoid any further injury.
Oh, and one more thing. The exercise has the extra benefit of improving blood flow to your feet and ankles.
3. Fire and Ice
Complain about pain in your feet and someone is sure to recommend an ice pack. Put it on your sore or swollen feet for a few minutes and then get on with your day.
Sometimes this works just fine, but a combination of hot and cold therapies can work even better. It takes only 30 minutes of your time, and if your injury is severe you can repeat the treatment three or four times a day.
The first step is to have the tools necessary for the job.
Do you have an electric heating pad? If not, you can use a small tub with warm water.
Do you have an icepack? If not, you can use a plastic bag of ice cubes wrapped in a towel.
Now begin the treatment by applying heat to your feet for approximately 15 minutes. Heat is proven to be effective in decreasing stiffness, reducing pain, reducing spasms, and reducing inflammation. And, of course, it also increases blood flow. This causes more proteins to be transported to the area of injury which assists with healing.
However, more blood flow also means a higher metabolic rate for your cells, and in the case of injured feet this may sabotage healing efforts.
That’s what the icepack is for. While a cold compression wrap is ideal, a towel with ice cubes will work if applied evenly. Expose your feet to the icepack for 15 minutes. This will lower the temperature of the injured tissue, which reduces the metabolic rate.
Your feet will be feeling better in no time!