If you are following your own workout routine, odds are good that you have already considered warming up and cooling down as a steady part of your plan.
As well you should! Taking care to both build your body up for activity, then guiding it back down from exertion, are great ways to keep your body conditioned and help prevent injury. This is especially important for your feet and ankles, which must take on a lot of force when running and jumping.
But what should you do if you take these steps, but you find your feet still aching after a workout? Has something gone wrong? Is there part of your technique that isn’t helping you, or just something wrong that needs to be addressed via other means?
Those are all possibilities, and definitely something to talk with us about! Taking the right measures now to address sources of foot and ankle pain can not only keep you more active now, but help prevent complications that might lead to chronic pain and problems in the future.
But you still want to do something to try and help your pain right now, no? Here are a few tips for finding some relief for feet that stay hot with pain even after the cooldown.
Hit the Bath (of Epsom Salt)
Epsom salt is a health product that has withstood the test of time. While there is not a lot of medical research out to hold up claims that it’s some miracle worker of a product, there is not denying that a warm bath can still be soothing and encourage increased circulation to areas that need it.
To give your feet a good soak, add a half-cup of salts to a small basin or tub. It should be large enough to comfortably hold your feet and enough warm water to cover up to the ankles.
You can also use a standard bathtub, if you wish. Add 2 cups of salt to that.
Soak your feet anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. It’s dependent on how it feels to you and what benefit you are deriving from it.
However, please be mindful of how often you soak your feet, and opt for a foot bath only three times per week at most. Such treatments can dry out your skin, leading to cracks. If your feet are already cracked, or you have a condition such as diabetes, we heavily recommend consulting us first before starting a bath treatment.
Heel pain can often be the result of plantar fasciitis, irritation and minor injury to the thick band of tissue that supports the bottom of the foot.
Rolling something along the bottom of the foot, forward and back, can help massage and stretch the plantar fascia, providing some added relief.
You can use a foam roller if you have it, but a tennis ball can also work just fine (it’s also easier to work under a desk if you’re on the job!).
If you want to add some cold therapy to your rolling, that’s easy! Partly fill and freeze a plastic water bottle to roll instead. You could also fill a Styrofoam cup with water, freeze that and use it, too. Just be mindful that ice will melt eventually, so keep a cap on that bottle and be mindful of where that Styrofoam cup might start leaking!
Give Yourself a Massage (or Get Someone to Do It for You)
If rolling is not quite enough, a massage can be a more direct way to reach your pain points.
A routine for this is rather simple, but feel free to customize it as you see fit. Sit with one foot over the opposite leg. Grasp around the top and bottom of the foot with both hands, then rub firmly and gradually with your thumbs around the top of the foot, traveling from ankle to toes three times.
Once finished up top, use your fingers against the bottom of the foot, working similarly from heels to toes three times. Then repeat with your other foot.
Finding More Permanent Solutions
Massaging, rolling, baths, and cold are all ways to potentially find relief when you need it, but they will likely do little to hit the core of the problem.
Whether they root cause is an overuse injury, an inherited abnormality with foot structure, or a different reason entirely, the best way to take care of it is to properly identify and directly address the problem. This might mean additional rest, different equipment, stretches specific toward conditioning certain muscles and tendons, or orthotics to provide support and correction, among other potential treatments.
Just as it’s important to warm up before an activity, it’s crucial to ensure your feet and ankles are fully set to take on the demands you are giving them. Treating your pain after the fact is reactive. A proactive approach is going to yield much better results for you in the long run!
If you need help with foot or ankle pain that is putting a damper on your athletic progress, set up an appointment with Dr. Evan Merrill or Dr. Adam Gerber in our Medford office. Call us toll free at (844) 899-6826 or fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you shortly.