Dr. Gary Barone
Wed July 26, 2023
It’s another beautiful summer morning in Port Moody, and you decide to take an early morning stroll through the trees before the heat kicks in. Your stroll turns into a three-hour hike filled with exhilarating hills, navigating tree roots, gravel and boulders. As you approach your home, you realize you feel great. Then when you sit down, you start to feel foot pain.
It may seem like common sense that if you have a foot problem, it would hurt more while you are challenging it, not after. Why does it hurt minutes after when you stop moving and not while you are walking? Several seemingly logical theories may enter your mind in an attempt to explain this phenomena.
You may think it is endorphins, natural painkillers, that coarse through your body while you are walking and suddenly stop when you hit the couch. You may take a broader perspective and think this is an evolutionary phenomenon designed to withhold pain signals until we are safe. These explanations could be true, or not, but neither one provides a useful explanation that guides you toward a solution.
How your Feet Work
Many parts of the body are complex, and the feet are complex too, but not in the same way that the rest of the body is complex in a sense that the feet are really only composed of muscles and ligaments and tendons, and the nerves and blood vessels that serve them. Most problems with the feet are rooted in some type of injury to muscles and joints. So let’s look at a few different factors that will help us think clearly about your foot problems.
Mechanical problems with the foot typically arise with misalignment. The feet have three arches: medial, lateral and longitudinal. Foot pain is typically related to misalignment in these arches. When the foot is not aligned this can increase the likelihood of muscle and tendon injuries.
Mechanical foot problems are often diagnosed as plantar fasciitis, chronic tendiniitis, achilles tendiniitis, pronation syndrome or metatarsalgia.
Treatment for Mechanical Foot Problems
Custom Orthotics are the gold-standard for treatment of mechanical foot problems. Almost all problems can be traced back to misalignment. Some have tried to forego orthotics and perform exercises to restore normal arch movement. Unlike exercises which tire the already stressed foot, orthotics relieve stress while allowing the foot to instantly have proper mechanics.
In many cases, joints of the foot are fixated and not moving properly. Chiropractors are able to adjust the joints of the foot to give them better alignment and movement. Adjustments before casting to get orthotics will help you have a better-fitting orthotic that will improve your mechanics even more.
It is worth mentioning that poor mechanics of the foot can result in issues higher up the leg such as achilles tendiniitis, chronic ankle sprains, shin splints, ilitibial band syndrome, hip bursitis, lower back pain and even headaches.
Scar Tissue Problems
When your feet are injured, scar tissue forms as part of the healing process. Scar tissue has a rough texture and can result in friction occurring at the interface between muscles, ligaments and tendons of the foot. With scar tissue problems, you will often feel pain for a while while walking (such as the first steps in the morning) but it will feel better after walking for a while.
Another presentation of this problem is feeling great during your walk or run, then resting for a bit, followed by a period of pain and sensitivity.
The reason for this pain pattern is that the problem is caused by friction at the interface between muscles. Pain occurs first when the muscles start moving relative to each other while scar tissue creates friction. As the muscles start moving, the friction decreases, and the pain subsides. You can often walk or run for hours without pain. Runners often refer to this as “running through” the pain. Then when you stop, the pain sensation returns. You may have pain while walking, for example 30 minutes after your run.
Common diagnoses that fit into this problem are plantar fasciitis and shin splints.
How do you treat scar tissue problems?
Active Release Techniques is the gold standard for the treatment of problems related to scar tissue at the interface between muscles. ART is a specialized system of techniques designed to improve the texture and movements of muscles and reduce the effects of scar tissue on the body. ART providers receive hundreds of hours of training in various techniques for each area of the body. Basic (Level 1) courses address issues in the spine, legs (lower extremity) and arms (upper extremity). Practitioners can then go to level two of the same areas. Other courses include Nerve Entrapments, Biomechanics and running analysis, and a Masters class where you work with the developer of ART himself, Dr. Michael Leahy.
Each intense course requires around 60-100 hours to complete the level. This includes study and preparation, an 18-hour in-person seminar and an exam. The result for you as a patient is a very skilled practitioner who can address your foot pain very affectively and quickly.
Sprains, Strains and Microtears
It is possible that your feet can be overworked and tired from an intense activity. One common way that feet become strained and overtired is from running barefoot through sand. Running or walking in loose dry sand is probably the best way to exercise and stabilize the foot, but it can also make your muscles tired and sore.
Sprains and strains are also possible while running through sand, or on any surface for that matter.
Treatments for Sprains and Strains
Rest, ice and compression are the standard treatments for strains and sprains. A basic sprain or strain will heal in 4-6 weeks. If you want to accelerate healing, Class-4 laser is the high-end way to speed your way to relief.
How to Ice
Ice should only be applied for 15-20 minutes, followed by a minimum 45-minute break to allow the body to recover. Ice is cheap and easy, and decreases pain quite well, allowing you to get walking again, but does not help you heal faster.
Compression Boots are sophisticated (and expensive) devices that help athletes recover from hard training sessions. I own and recommend the Normatec 3.0 available at www.hyperice.com. These boots stimulate circulation and blood flow to get nutrients to the healing area. I don’t receive any sponsorship or compensation for recommending this product, but I can tell you it is great.
If you want the ultimate high-tech way to heal faster, visit our office to schedule a Laser visit. Class-4 Laser Therapy uses high-energy photobiomodulation to stimulate blood flow, decrease pain and give the cells more energy to heal quickly. Injuries that receive Laser therapy every other day heal twice as fast.
Let Us Make a Plan to Help Your Foot Pain.
At Una Vita Chiropractic we have provided chiropractic, custom orthotics and laser therapy to help thousands of people like you recover permanently from their foot problems. All the treatments I suggested should only be performed under the advice of a doctor, as they could otherwise be potentially harmful. Book online today, and we will create a plan for you to help you feel and live your best as quickly as possible.