Our Jersey City physical therapists recommend finding alternative ways to stay active while working through any form of foot pain
by ggargiulo, August 11, 2017
Any injury or amount of pain will usually mess with your ability to function normally in one way or another. Sometimes, the degree of impairment is manageable—like some mild neck pain after sleeping in a bad position—while other injuries severely interrupt some of your favorite activities. For runners and other extremely active individuals, foot pain often falls in the latter category. This can be quite frustrating, but our Jersey City physical therapists urge you to find ways to work around in order to remain active while rehabilitating.
The feet and ankles are built tough, and as our foundation, they are capable of sustaining 2-3 times our body weight. But just like every other body part, they have a limit, too. When the feet get overworked or over-trained, or if they aren’t strong or flexible enough to handle the demands we place on them, problems can arise in the form of injury.
Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis are two of the most common painful conditions of the foot, particularly in the heel. Plantar fasciitis accounts for about 8% of all running injuries and is actually the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is a flat band of tissue that connects your heel bone to the toes, and it serves as a main support for the arch of your foot. But when it becomes irritated or inflamed—from training too hard, wearing unsupportive shoes or even spending too much time barefoot—plantar fasciitis occurs. This leads to a sharp, stabbing pain at the base of their heel that’s particularly noticeable during the first steps of the morning.
The Achilles tendon—which connects the calf muscle to the back of the heel—is the thickest, strongest and longest tendon in the body. Achilles tendinitis is the inflammation of this tendon, and it’s most common in runners who do lots of speed training, uphill running or who suddenly increase the intensity or duration of their runs. Pain usually comes on gradually as a mild ache in the back of the leg or above the heel after completing a run, but it may get more severe after long runs, climbing stairs or sprinting. Some individuals also experience tenderness or stiffness, especially in the morning.
When dealing with either of these injuries, it’s important to avoid putting pressure on the affected foot while giving the body time to heal. Specific stretching and stretching exercises, and other pain-relieving treatments delivered by a physical therapist can all help accelerate this healing process, but many individuals will feel restless during this time and have an itch to stay active. Believe it or not, it is possible to stay active during this recovery process, and our Jersey City physical therapists actually recommend it. The main difference is that most advised activities are low impact and reduce the strain on your feet. Here are some ideas:
- Swimming and other aquatic activities: the lack of impact makes any water-based exercise ideal for painful feet
- Cycling: another low-impact activity that could be seen as a perfect alternative to running
- Kayak/stand-up paddling: work on your upper body strength with these options
- Yoga/Pilates/Tai chi: if necessary, each of these activities can be modified to accommodate your foot pain
- Avoid: any activities that are high-impact or involve jumping or cutting movements, such as basketball, tennis, football and jogging
Staying away from your normal exercise regimen for an extended period of time can be difficult, but it’s also necessary if you want to return to full strength from your foot pain. Give these alternative forms of exercise a try, and see our Jersey City physical therapists for a comprehensive rehabilitation program to accelerate your recovery even more. Contact Strulowitz & Gargiulo Physical Therapy at 201-792-3840 to schedule an appointment at our flagship Jersey City clinic, the Jersey City Medical Center Outpatient Therapy Department, our Bayonne location, or at Clara Maas Medical Center in Belleville, NJ, or click here for more information on foot pain injuries.