If you are dealing with foot and ankle pain it can be hard to know what information to trust and what to do about it.
We’ve helped hundreds of people with similar pain so we know it can be pretty frustrating and it can affect a lot of different parts of your day. Whether it’s affecting your workouts, walking, stairs, or another part of your day, it can be tough to deal with it.
On top of that, most medical advice is super negative and will tell you that you have to rest it or it will get worse, you should stop running or exercising, or some other negative message that doesn’t make you feel good about recovery. Or, maybe you’ve had an MRI that looks scary or you’ve been told something scary about your foot or ankle. We've heard this over and over again from people we’ve helped. The good news is that you don’t have to live with pain!
Everyone’s pain is completely different and needs a very individual approach. But, there are some general tips and answers to questions that we’ve found to be helpful to a lot of people dealing with pain. Some of these might be very different from what you’ve heard before, but it’s all backed by research and also by all the stories of people with hip pain who have recovered.
Flat feet are probably not a problem
Flat feet have been made out to be one of the worst things for you. I’ve heard doctors and other physical therapists tell people that flat feet cause foot pain, knee pain, hip pain, back pain, shoulder pain, and even a couple of people have been told their headaches and jaw pain are caused by their flat foot. What’s the truth? Flat feet don’t actually make you more likely to have pain, and you don’t have to “fix” your flat feet to get out of pain. If you have flat feet or a flat foot, I bet you’ve had them for a long time and didn’t have pain this whole time. That means that you can get out of pain without needing anything fixed with your foot. Instead of focusing on that, spend time on getting your foot stronger, more flexible, better balance, or something else that will actually help.
Finding the perfect shoe
I used to take a lot of time to find the smallest detail in someone’s foot and then tell them exactly what shoe was right for them. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Well, once I dug into the research I figured out why. It turns out that there isn’t a “right” shoe for any specific foot type. It doesn’t make you less likely to have pain, usually doesn’t fix pain, but it’s a great marketing tool for shoe companies. I’ve been a PT for a very long time and I’ve seen a ton of shoe trends. First it was a stability shoe, then everyone needed a minimalist shoe (lots of stress fractures from that trend!), now it’s a lot of cushion. I’m sure there will be a new fad next. In reality, the best shoe is the one that feels the most comfortable to you. So instead of stressing about finding the perfect shoe, I’d recommend just trying a few on and going with the one that feels the best.
Ankle sprains can be a problem longer after they get “better”
Most ankle sprains are painful and annoying in the moment and then get better a few days to a few weeks later. You can get back to everything you want to do and your ankle feels better. The problem is that there might be some weakness or tightness leftover that you don’t even know is there. We have helped a lot of people with foot and ankle pain and found weakness or tightness that’s probably left over from an ankle sprain that “recovered” but never totally got back to 100%. So if you’re having some foot and ankle pain, make sure you have someone do a really thorough assessment for mobility, strength and balance to find any of these small little issues that can be preventing you from getting better.
There is so much more that can be done about your pain, but since your pain is different from every single other person’s foot and ankle pain, it needs a different approach and there isn’t a one size fits all answer. These are some of the most common tips that we give, though. While all three probably don’t apply to you, I’m hoping that at least one is helpful.
If you learn nothing else, I hope you learn that your pain can get better and that you don’t have to live with it, let it stop you from doing what you want to do, or think that it will be a lifelong thing. It can get better!
If we can help in any other way, please feel free to reach out anytime. Our company mission is to keep people in the DC area active and exercising and to take the fear out of pain so if there’s a way we can help you do that, we’d love to!