A friend asked me for help with her foot pain. She's developed a painful callus on her foot and might have to have surgery to remove a corn that's developed. It reminded me of the pain I used to have in my feet, ankles, knees and hips, so I gave her the following suggestions on how I reversed it.
I developed a lot of pain walking while in my forties. I'd been relatively athletic in high school, but let it slide as I got a desk job that demanded a lot of sitting--sometimes upwards of 70 hours a week. Over time, I realized I needed to make a commitment to health and I started walking with friends. Problem was, a ninety minute walk led to agony in my hips. My knees weren't much better. Even my feet and ankles hurt. I had bunions forming and I was way too young for that. I needed to do something different.
I started to pay attention to my body when I was walking. I noticed that when I was tired, I let my feet start to turn out. I also noticed that when I was tired, my knees turned in more. I realized that when I was tired, these changes would lead the head of my femur to put pressure on the hip socket in an unhealthy way, so I started doing some research.
I liked what I found at Egoscue. I got a video from them called Posture Solutions. I got helpful hints from the video on how to reduce my pain. I made little changes. It took a while to start catching myself when I made posture mistakes, but I started getting better at it the more attention I paid to my body.
I began to keep my feet straight forward when I walked, even when I got tired. I made sure that my stride was centered between the 2nd and 3rd toes. I used to walk with my weight mostly on my big toe, so that was a big change. I made sure my knees didn't drift in when I was tired, either. I cut my walks short if I got too tired to have correct form.
The last big thing was that I started changing how my feet interacted with the ground. Before, I let them land however they wanted. I'd been putting too much weight on my big toe, which made my feet roll inward and my arch flatten. I knew I needed to have a more neutral foot. It's not easy, because the muscles are strong where they're called on and weak where they're not. I'd try lifting my arches a bit until they'd tire, then let them go back to the old way. When I thought about it again, I'd lift my arch again. Bit by bit, my muscles got stronger in the correct positioning.
My friend was excited by these ideas because she'd had surgery some time before. The pain from the surgery had made her shift her weight to the outside of her foot and she'd kept up that habit even once the pain went away. She's going to try to make these changes and see if they help.
Just one note of caution: if you've been walking with poor form for a long time, everything could start hurting more for a while after you change. In my experience, this was because things start waking up. I'd had a lot of hidden inflammation, so it took a while to clear. More blood circulation was getting into the areas than before. Nerves that hadn't been heard from in decades were outraged as they woke up and gave me a piece of their mind.
I'm glad I stayed with it. The pains went away over time. So did the bunions. I'm much healthier and capable of taking long walks without foot, knee or hip pain. I even started jogging again. So if you have joint pain, don't think you have to live with it. If you have corns or bunions, try changing how you walk and the shoes you wear. Over time, little changes add up to big relief.
Photo by Alan Labisch on Unsplash