As many people age, they complain of pain in their feet the first thing in the morning or after taking the first few steps after prolonged sitting. These symptoms can come from weight gain, increased activity, such as walking or running, poor support in shoes like the ever popular flip-flops, or, a more sedentary life style.
The reason this happens is that the muscles in the back of the legs hook into a bone in the bottom of your foot. When these muscles become tight they pull on their attachment to the bone. When we wear flip-flops or shoes without an arch support, our arches are stressed and this can cause inflammation in the same area. Proper stretching is vital to our foot health as are proper foot supports.
Stretching should be performed on warm muscles. Start with both feet together. Take a large step forward with your left foot. Lean forward with hands on the wall for support while bending the left knee, keeping the right knee straight , both heels on the floor. You should feel the stretch behind the right calf. Hold the stretch 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
The 2nd stretch: start as in the first stretch,left foot forward, keep the right heel down and bend boths knees while leaning forward and holding onto a counter or some stable device. Hold for 30 seconds. You should feel the stretch closer to the heel cord or Achilles. Repeat on the left side.
Last but not least, good arch supports are a must. There are many over the counter supports as well as athletic shoes that have support. I like the ¾ arch supports so that I can slip them in any shoe, even the popular ballet flats!
Nancy Whelan is the owner of the West Palm Beach Physical Therapy Center . She has been a physical therapist for over 30 years.