Our feet are incredible structures that we tend to forget about—until they hurt.
Each foot has 26 bones and 33 joints that are supported by nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
When you think about the weight your feet carry over the course of a day, it’s no wonder they can hurt sometimes. In fact, foot pain is common, with 80% of people over 21 reporting a pain issue with their feet.
Foot Pain Reduces Your Quality of Life
Stubbing a toe or getting a blister is bad enough, but when foot pain is constant, it’s no understatement to say it ruins your life.
Without your feet, you can’t go anywhere or even stand up.
Foot pain is no joke, so let’s look at 10 reasons why your feet hurt and how you can fix them.
10 Reasons Your Feet Hurt
1. Plantar Fasciitis
When tissues that connect the heel to the toe are hurt or inflamed, the result is plantar fasciitis (fash-e-i-tis). It’s the most common cause of heel pain.
Walking naturally collapses your foot inward and allows it to flatten, but badly fitting shoes, high heels, or vigorous exercise can interrupt this process—and that’s when the connective plantar fascia tissue gets sore.
To prevent and combat plantar fasciitis, grab a tennis ball and place it beneath your foot arch. Roll it from toe to heel, concentrating on any sore spots. Then sit flat on the floor to flex your ankles and stretch out the connective tissues.
Ditch high heels until the pain has subsided and consider wearing more supportive shoes in the long term.
2. Ingrown Toenail
When a toenail grows into the neighboring skin, it causes pain and creates an infection.
They can be caused by a blow to the toenail, tight shoes, or cutting your nails too short. If you have an ingrown toenail, the best move is to encourage it away from the skin.
Soak your feet in Epsom salts or an essential oil like antiseptic tea tree oil every day and gently push the skin away from the nail.
If there’s an infection, it’s important to see a doctor, but most ingrown toenails can be treated at home.
Avoid ingrown toenails by cutting the nail straight across and gently filing the corners, moisturizing your feet regularly, and removing any hard, dead skin.
A callus is an area of thickened skin.
They can appear anywhere on the body that’s subject to frequent friction because your skin thickens to protect the delicate tissues beneath.
Hands and feet are common places for a callus. They can form on your heel, the balls of the feet, beneath toes, on top of toes, and often on the pinky toe.
Calluses are easily removed by soaking feet in Epsom salts and filing them down with a pumice stone. Well-fitting shoes and regular moisturizing will help too.
4. Flat Feet
Some folks are born with flat feet, and others can develop them from a variety of conditions, including pregnancy, obesity, or diabetes.
Flat feet happen when the calf tendons don’t pull up properly, leaving the foot arch to collapse and touch the floor. It’s often painful and difficult to correct.
If you aren’t sure whether you have flat feet, look out for your wet footprints or walk on the beach. The floor ought to be dry between the toe and heel, and the sand still mounded. If it isn’t, you may have flat feet.
There isn’t much you can do about flat feet, but avoid pain and a worsening situation by rolling a tennis ball under your arches and choosing supportive shoes.
5. Heel Spurs
Nothing to do with cowboys and everything to do with calcium, heel spurs are deposits of calcium beneath the heel bones.
They’re often painless, but larger ones can stab into nerve endings or the plantar fascia when you walk.
Heel spurs may respond to flex-and-point stretching exercises. Losing excess weight and wearing supportive shoes will help too. As a last resort, a cortisone injection or surgery may be required.
6. Stone Bruise
Stone bruises are particularly painful bruises on the ball of the foot or the heel. They can hurt so much it’s impossible to put any weight on your foot.
Runners and overweight individuals are prone to stone bruises, and they’re often the result of an impact injury.
Stone bruises will pass in time. You can speed up recovery with ice packs, painkillers, and rest.
7. A Sprain
Exercising, falling over, or impact injury can cause overstretched ligaments—which we call a sprain.
Sprained ligaments take time to recover their elasticity, and because there are many ligaments in the feet, sprains and strains are frequent problems.
Rest a sprain with ice packs, take painkillers, and keep it elevated. Supportive shoes are essential, and you may be advised to keep weight off your foot.
You can’t rush recovery from a sprain. The body takes its own sweet time to recover from this one.
Not only the illness of overweight elderly men, gout is a form of arthritis and the pain is shocking.
Gout is a pain in the big toe. It swells up, feels hot, appears red, and is untouchable. It can come and go over time, harming joints and tissues.
It’s caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood. This acid crystallizes into needle form in the coldest part of the body—your big toe.
If you’re overweight, drink too much alcohol, take diuretics, or have kidney problems, gout is more likely. Treat it by drinking plenty of water, resting up, and icing your toe.
Gout should be treated by a doctor, but you can avoid further attacks by eating a healthy diet, keeping active, and moderating alcohol intake.
RELATED: Eating to Minimize Gout Attacks
9. Achilles Tendonitis
The Achilles tendon joins your heel to your calf and was named after the Greek hero Achilles, who was dipped in the River Styx by his goddess mother to render him invincible. She held him by the ankle, which remained undipped and became his only vulnerable point. Poor Achilles was killed by a poison dart in his Achilles tendon.
When the Achilles tendon is inflamed from overuse, vigorous exercise, or uncomfortable high heels, the only cure is rest. Tendonitis is extremely painful and makes it difficult to even move your foot.
If it hurts, use an ice pack, take painkillers, and elevate your foot. Point-and-flex exercises will help build up stronger tendons—and avoiding poisoned arrows is always a good idea.
Bunions are associated with old people, but more young women have developed them as a result of ill-fitting high heels.
A bunion is a bony protrusion on the side of your foot just beneath the big toe. It develops when the bones are pushed out of alignment. A bunion will ache in uncomfortable shoes, so get a wider, well-fitting pair with lower heels to minimize pain and stop the bunion from growing.
If you develop a bunion on your pinky toe, it’s called a bunionette, which is a much cuter name than the reality. Treat a bunionette in the same way.
Diabetics and Foot Pain
Diabetics are at greater risk of developing foot injury and disease, because nerve damage leads to numbness. When foot pain is masked, it can worsen without you realizing. If you are diabetic and develop problems with your feet, you need to see a doctor.
Pay Attention if Your Feet Hurt
If your feet hurt, it’s time to pay attention to these amazing creations. An active life relies on healthy, pain-free feet—so they are worth the investment.
Get regular pedicures or do them at home, cut nails straight across and not too short, keep your weight down to avoid unnecessary pressure, and wear well-fitting shoes.
Those heels are fine for a night out, but on a regular basis they could be doing your feet serious harm and causing unnecessary pain.