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Foot Pain -4 Unexpected Causes

Foot pain can slow your life down.  Although a major foot injury or disease is an obvious cause of pain, it’s the subtle causes that can be a mystery. It may begin as a mild discomfort.  If it persists, inflammation can set in, resulting in localized swelling and more pain.  I frequently see patients with this complaint.

Whether pain is from a tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, or even a blister or corn, the problem tends to arise from placing abnormal stress to the region.

In a normal walking pattern, the heel touches the ground first. As we shift weight forward toward the toes, the ankle and foot joints act as shock absorbers.  This helps disperse the stresses while loading weight onto the foot. When the heel  hits the ground, it guides the placement and pattern of pressure over the rest of the foot. However, if the joints are not properly aligned, the weight placed onto the foot shifts its distribution and may result in excessive stress to that region.

The origin of foot pain often is from tightness, causing an uneven pulling of muscles of the ankle and foot.  In addition, overstretched muscles become weak and inefficient and may lead to ankle and foot instability.

Foot pain can come and go, or even shift around.

This may be due to your body sending a subliminal message to your brain… “Hey brain, figure out a way to get this nagging pain reduced so I can continue walking or standing.” It actually didn’t fix the problem, it just let you buy time. Over time, the way in which you walk can become unnatural. This can also shift the body unnaturally in standing and walking. As a result, it may set up a domino effect that can lead to more pain.

4 Unexpected Causes of foot pain:

  1. Sitting on your foot –  leads to excessive stretch of the ankle and foot; it then places the heel in an unnatural position in standing and walking.


An unexpected cause of foot pain
Sitting on a flexed foot.




  1. . Sitting with the foot or feet folded under the chair, toes bent under –  excessive stretch is placed on the top of      the feet and front of the ankle. This can lead to foot pain when walking.


Sitting with feet folded under a chair changes the joint position which may lead to pai.
Sitting with feet folded under a chair may promote foot pain.

3. Wearing footwear without support at the back of the heel – the heel is in a potentially unstable position, which               allows the heel to slide side to side, increasing the vulnerability for an ankle sprain.

Unstable footwear can lead to foot pain.


4. Walking with a heavy heel strike up an incline (including on a treadmill) – over time and repetition, this may                 stretch the muscles of the heel cord, pushing the heel pad forward, causing heel pain.


Foot pain from walking up inclines by digging in the heels.
Walking up an incline striking heels with force can cause foot pain.


The key is to pay attention for signs that your foot posture is changing before pain sets in.

Here are just a few:

  • Examine your shoes for the wear and tear on the heel and sole
  • While standing, check to see if one foot appears offset to the other, in any direction
  • Feeling off-balanced in your stepping when walking on a level surface

Each of these findings are identifying factors that would benefit from hands-on physical therapy intervention to gently re-position the ankle and foot. Contact @schehrcenter for questions or a consultation.



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