How to Alleviate Foot Pain

Four Parts:Identifying the Symptoms and Causes of Foot PainPracticing Methods to Alleviate Foot PainTaking Preventative StepsKnowing When to Seek Medical Attention

Each human foot is comprised of 26 bones, over 100 muscles, and numerous ligaments and tendons.[1] If your feet are sore, that indicates a problem with how your foot is interacting with internal and/or external factors. Because the feet bear weight and are responsible for how mobile you are, it is important to treat foot pain immediately. As soon as your feet become sore, you may unintentionally change the way you walk or use your feet, and this may possibly lead to bunions, plantar fasciitis, and hammertoes. Although severe foot problems should be treated by a doctor, there are stretches and treatments that can help foot pain and change habits so that it does not become a severe problem.

Part 1
Identifying the Symptoms and Causes of Foot Pain

  1. 1
    Know the symptoms. The symptoms for foot pain are fairly obvious. You might need to start taking better care of your feet if you notice any of the following:
    • Soreness in the toes, heels, or balls of your feet
    • Bumps or protrusions on any part of your feet
    • Difficulty walking or feeling uncomfortable while walking
    • Tenderness to the touch on any part of your feet
  2. 2
    Recognize the causes of heel pain. There are many things that can cause pain in your heel. Here are some of the most common causes:
    • Plantar fasciitis is the most common reason people have heel pain. It is caused by an irritated plantar fascia, which is the tough tissue that connects the toes to the heel bone.[2] It can cause discomfort in the heel or arches.
      • Treatment for plantar fasciitis includes rest, over the counter pain relievers, or heel/toe stretches.
    • Heel spurs are extra bone growths on the bottom of the heel bone that can cause discomfort. They are usually caused by poor posture, inappropriate shoes, or by activities like running.[3]
      • Treatment for heel spurs includes choosing better shoes with a more supportive arch, rest, or over the counter pain relievers.
  3. 3
    Recognize the causes of other foot pain. There are many possible reasons that your foot might hurt in areas other than the heel. Here are some of them:
    • Metatarsalgia is pain that occurs from inflammation in the ball of the foot.[4] It is usually caused by strenuous activities or by shoes that fit poorly.
      • Treatment includes icing or resting the foot, choosing more appropriate shoes, or pain relievers.
    • Bunions are bony protrusions on the edge of the foot, usually next to the base of the big toe.[5] They are often caused by shoes that don't fit properly.
      • Treatment includes wearing more comfortable shoes or surgery, if the case is severe.
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    Identify the sore area of your foot. Before doing any foot stretches, try to identify if it is your toes, heels, arches, balls of your feet or any other part that is hurting. Does it hurt worse when you are moving or bearing weight? Are you forced to change your gait?
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    Decide if you are duck- or pigeon-toed. Many people walk with their feet bowed slightly out. This is known as being duck-toed. Other people walk with their feet turned slightly in. This is called being pigeon-toed. Although this may be a comfortable position, the muscles, bones and tendons are not being used properly. Bad foot alignment can be responsible for pain in the feet, knees, hips, and back.

Part 2
Practicing Methods to Alleviate Foot Pain

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    Align your feet. Stand with your feet facing forward and use a straight surface like the edge of a rug, a wall, or a yoga mat to align one foot and then the other so that the feet are facing straight forward. This may feel strange at first. Try to adjust your foot position whenever you can remember.
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    Walk barefoot with good alignment. Schedule some time at home to walk around barefoot.[6] This can increase foot dexterity and stretch the muscles.
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    Do a straight leg stretch. Sit with your legs strait and your feet flat against the wall. Place a pillow underneath your buttocks.[7] Lean forward with your back straight. Hold for 10 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times. This stretch is especially important for people who wear high heels.
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    Do a V stretch. Lie on your back with your buttocks a few inches from the wall. Place your legs in a "V" and straighten them. You should feel a stretch in your inner thighs and help your arches. Lying with your feet above your chest can also help to reduce swelling.
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    Do toe stretches. Stand up and step forward with your right foot and transfer weight to your right foot. Curl your left toes under so that the tops of the toes touch the floor. Lean forward slightly until you feel a stretch on the top of your feet. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the stretch 2 to 3 times on each side.
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    Use your hands to stretch your toes/feet. Sit down and put your right leg on top of your left thigh. Place the fingers of your left hand between the toes on your right foot. This helps to widen your toes and stretch them. Do this stretch for 1 to 5 minutes, and then repeat it on the opposite side.
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    Use a topical gel. Rub sore feet with a topical gel that contains an anti-inflammatory aid. The act of rubbing feet may also relieve muscle tension.
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    Implement the RICE method. Treat foot soreness with the Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) method if your foot pain is acute. Rest your feet when they start to hurt. Place an ice pack or a bag of ice wrapped in a towel on the most painful parts of your feet and wrap them with a bandage or towel. Elevate your feet so that they are above your heart in order to reduce inflammation.

Part 3
Taking Preventative Steps

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    Evaluate your shoe choices. High heels and shoes with little or no arch support may be the reason your feet are hurting. Invest in a few pairs of shoes that are designed to cushion your foot bed and alleviate pain.
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    Choose shoes with a negative heel. These shoes place the heel slightly lower than the ball of the foot and take pressure off the ball of the foot. They can also stretch the calf muscles. This can help alleviate pain especially for people who have intense pain in the front or ball of the foot.
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    Always stretch your feet before leaving the house. Many people do not address the muscles in their feet when they stretch. Develop a routine to help alleviate day to day pain.

Part 4
Knowing When to Seek Medical Attention

  1. 1
    See a doctor if pain persists. If your pain continues after you have consistently tried all of the stretching and home remedies, there may be something further wrong with your feet that is causing the pain and you should visit a doctor to get their opinion. Even if the outcome is that you have chronic pain and need to take pain relievers, it's important to rule out other possibilities first.
  2. 2
    Get severe bunions surgically removed. If bunions become severe (meaning that they cause continuous pain, limit mobility, or cause foot deformity), you need to seek medical attention to get them removed. A doctor will either cut the bunion off[8] or drill several holes in the protruding bones and anchor them with a type of mesh that can be tightened to correct the bone movement over time.[9]
  3. 3
    Get surgery for severe arthritis foot pain. If you have extreme pain in your feet because of arthritis, you may need to get a fusion surgery.[10] This type of surgery involves removing all of the cartilage from the joint and then using screws and plates to join two bones together so that they no longer move. This can help alleviate the pain caused by arthritis and increase mobility.
  4. 4
    Visit the doctor if you are an athlete with an injury. If you are a healthy athletic person and have injured yourself doing an athletic activity, you should see the doctor. You may have pulled a tendon or fractured a bone and it may need surgery to be repaired.


  • If you have plantar fasciitis, you may find pain relief by rolling a golf ball around on the bottom of your foot.
  • Treat sores on the skin of your feet immediately with a first aid kit. Blisters can become infected if they break or aren't treated properly.
  • Don't walk too much.

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