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February 9th, 2009
12:10 PM ET

Ohhh my aching feet!

By Karen Denice
CNN Senior Medical Producer

Another day, another training walk and my feet are feeling the pain. I’m training for a half-marathon walk and even though I know walking is good for my health, I also figured it would be pretty easy on my body. However, I did not check in with my feet before making this assumption. Granted I like to call my feet “special”: I overpronate, have flat arches and bunions – special.

Still, walking with good shoes and, for me, shoe inserts should normally do the trick. But the foot is a complicated specimen with 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 ligaments, tendons and muscles. The list is long as to what can cause foot pain - from plantar fasciitis and tendinitis to toenail injuries - and experts warn not to put up with foot pain – see a health professional.

But first you may want to try these tips to see if they cure the hurt. Wear socks that wick away moisture to reduce blisters. Always stretch legs and feet before activity and try to make stretching at the end of your day a habit as well. Also, consider the terrain you’re walking on – choose trails rather than pavement. This should cut down on stress to your joints which can lead to arch and heel pain. Avoid walking barefoot. Experts say this can leave your feet more susceptible to injury and infection.

I’ve tried nearly all of the above tips, and will probably be heading to a foot specialist myself if this discomfort continues.
Do you have foot pain when you walk? What do you do to cure the ache? We want to hear from you.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. mark Denice

    Can shoes or the way you walk cause problems with your achilles since it attaches to the heel which takes a lot of the daily pounding from walking? i have had to switch to wearing tennis shoes to work instead of dress shoes because of this.

    February 9, 2009 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stephanie Cosgrove (Podiatrist)

      Hi Mark. There is two things that make a difference for tendo-achilles pain with respect to shoes. One is some bounce in the heel which you have already discovered. The other is that the heel needs to be 1 cm thicker at the heel than at the front. This elevation will take a lot of the strain off the tendon and (often) is all that is needed to resolve a minor complaint. I'll include a link to a very good info article below.
      http://www.walkwithoutpain.com.au/achilles-tendon-and-calf-pain/

      September 21, 2010 at 05:40 | Report abuse |
  2. george

    Like the writer above I have special feet as well. And my flat walking on my ankles (inpronating) yet runing my shoes over (overpronating) feet are even more special with a Plantars wart right on the ball of my foot. Have been to my family doctor who has prescribed creams that seem to help only with the wart returning seeminly rooted deeper than before.

    Can anyone tell me the brest trwatment for Plantars warts. does laser treatments work? and has anyone tried it and have any info about it?

    February 9, 2009 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. TTNYC

    I walk all over the city on concrete sidewalks and without supportive shoes it gets very painful. I use foot soaking packets that I add to water that help revive my sore feet. My feet also get sore if I am standing any amount of time.

    February 9, 2009 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. DrD11

    And above all wear orthotics all the time,in house and out.
    Give your feet a break.Give it a chance to re-align and re-model,
    so will have a correct arch("Winlash" effect:Look it up), and vertical heel bone.

    February 9, 2009 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stephanie Cosgrove (Podiatrist)

      Hi – That is the 'Windlass' effect. You can see more about this at my Plantar Fasciitis Info Sheet

      September 21, 2010 at 06:00 | Report abuse |
  5. Jo

    letter carrier here, I walk 8 miles a day. I could not live without custom orthotics, and new balance shoes. Proper foortwear and support is key.

    February 10, 2009 at 04:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Julia Marquand

    Buy some vivobarefoot shoes. They are very simple shoes with only a thin layer of kevlar for the sole, and they let your feet flex, bend, and walk just like our ancestors. You get the benefit of walking barefoot without worrying about stepping in dog poop or broken glass. Our feet evolved over the last million years without shoes, and confining your feet in big chushy casts isn't helping us. I wear mine everywhere, and I frequently walk around the city for around 6 hours straight without ANY foot pain whatsoever.

    February 10, 2009 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Melissa

    To George:

    When I was about 11 or 12 I had many plantar warts on the soles of my feet (do they appear anywhere else??) and what worked for me what getting them iced! I can't remember if I took a medication for them or not. Have you tried having the doctor use dry ice? I think that's what it was anyway. Haha! I hope you'll find something that finally works for you. Those are painful!!!!

    February 10, 2009 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Holley

    The absolute best cure for plantar's warts is putting nail polish on them. Keep it covered and it'll fall off soon! Promise!

    February 10, 2009 at 11:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Waltraud

    I have horrible aching feet always. I have a hammer toe on my right foot. My left foot has been operated on many times, including the amputation of my big toe. Since I'm diabetic, I have neuropathy in that foot. I used to be active in martial arts, but no longer, thanks to my feet. Over the years, I've tried all kinds of orthotics. Nothing feels good. I'm down to taking pills for feet that hurt so bad. Lately, I don't walk if I can help it. My doctor thinks I'm faking it.

    February 10, 2009 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. catch 22

    I work on my feet all day. I wear orthodics and good shoes. I recently purchased a treadmill in effort to reduce my weight and relieve my feet of some of the burden of carrying around unnecessary excess weight. It has backfired on me. Although I started off slow and am cautious not to over do it, my right foot is killing me. The pain is on the top of my foot and the front part of my ankle. It has gotten so bad, I can barely walk. I cannot miss work but the pain is excruciating, so my doctor prescribed a non-narcotic pain reliever. Now the medication does not work anymore. Nothing shows up on the x-rays. I don't know what to do. I can't afford to go out on disability either. Grasping for relief.

    February 10, 2009 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Lisa

    For me, the problem ended up being partly due to different size feet. One foot was a 10 narrow and the other a 10.5 wide. Inserts and going up a 1/2 size helped tremendously.

    February 11, 2009 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Dave

    My feet are about the same, as I have flat feet and that tends to cause the overpronating. My feet are also straight, with no bend inwards, which makes it very tough to find shoes that fit. I've been to foot specialists from California to Florida, all of them with an idea of what to do or how to fix it, but I've never come close to finding a resolution. Foot scans, foot molds, orthotics, and everything else in between, but my feet still hurt when I walk. Unless there's something new I haven't tried, I doubt my foot pain will ever be cured.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. betty lou

    Try consulting with a yoga instructor. There are so many EASY exercises you can do with your feet to develop arches, and bring more space into your feet, ankles, knees and hips–you will feel like a million bucks again.

    February 11, 2009 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Lauren Conley

    Karen, these tips save my feet. I don't have a car and do a lot of walking, and this helps: when sitting at your desk or whenever, push your toes up against a hard surface, like you're putting out a foot cramp. Do this for about a minute at least 20 times a day and before bed. For the bunion, exercise your toes by holding your big toe and sqeezing using the muscles that hold your toes together. I had plantar fasiatis and bunions I thought I'd never recover, but doing these exercises truly did solve the pain problem.

    February 11, 2009 at 22:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Lauren Conley

    Oh, and rub dry stick deoderant on your feet especially where blisters form. Best little trick ever for preventing blisters!

    February 11, 2009 at 22:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. swazy

    george, I know this sounds strange, but someone told me about the natural "cure" to use banana peel on plantar wart, and adding in vinegar soaks...the wart was gone in less than two weeks and never came back.

    February 12, 2009 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Jay Davis

    This is interesting. A little background on me. Three years ago I said to my self. "Self, you should go run a Marathon." Now, I am turning 50 this year and had a body mass index of 29. But what the heck. My doctor was clueless about running, so I read and talked to some other runners. I trained for six months and ran my first (Baltimore) marathon in 2006. Five hours. I crossed the finish line and was totally addicted. Baltimore is one of the harder marathons but it is my home town. So what the heck. I did Duluth last year, and then Baltimore again. And will do both this year.

    Pain, I can not stress enough how important footwear is. I have zero problems with my feet or joints. I take it easy and stick to the 10% rule. Never increase distance more than 10% a week for any single run. Or 10% for total mileage per week. I do not pronate. I use Brooks shoes because I have a high arch and they feel best. I ran almost 1500 miles last year. I change my footwear every 400 miles. If you find shoes that fit buy at least two pair. The manufactures change styles. So watch out.

    Stretch before and carefully after each walk or run. Buy dual layer socks. They are actually two socks in one. This allows movement of the foot, and a buffer for movement with the shoe. I use Wrightsock. There are several brands, all are roughly $6.00 to $15, but worth every time. So watch out for the sock monster. I use a saftey pin to keep them together in the wash.

    When I train (always) the tiniest thing can drive me crazy, so I kept changing one thing at a time until I was happy. Down to what hat I wear. Not for luck. But because it feels right and I don't start thinking about it.

    Don't wear headphones. People try to run over me all the time. I have been hit by a car twice. They pulled right in front of me, and I actually ran into the car. If you have headphones on, you can't hear the cars.

    Lauren Conley had some good suggestions. Do exercise at your desk. I spend a lot of time on the phone, and have a barbell on the floor. This is a great way to build some muscle and raise that metabolism!

    If you have pain, don't take Ibuprofin, fix the problem, and slow down, stretch more.

    I hope this helps.

    February 12, 2009 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. vicki

    I have to buy Wider sneakers. New Balance has many, and a wider shoe gives the ball of foot /toes, more space to a spread out. I am overweight, and find that I've had to switch to a Wide. It has helped a lot.

    February 12, 2009 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Vickie y

    I even had foot pain with inserts and wearing tennis shoes. So, I am recovering from buinion surgery. It is a slow process and I also had a neuroma removed from my right foot. I hope that this will give me some relief.

    I still plan to wear what are called sensible shoes as I always have done.

    February 17, 2009 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Gracie

    My husband has had foot issues. He's had 2 surgeries for neuroma's and he's still limping. He's a young active 36 year old. He's seen 3 different Orthopedic Surgeons, 1 podiatrist and now he's gotten a referral for another Orthopedic Surgeon to look at his back to see if that is related to his foot (even though he has no pain in the back). He can't walk without feeling pain. It's awful and no one can explain it or fix it. The Orthopedic Surgeons cut him 2 times and with no relief. It's frustrating. His pain is at the bottom of the foot closer to the middle upper part of his foot.

    February 19, 2009 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. pamela

    my right foot hurts the top of aches what do think it is ,pamela

    July 2, 2009 at 01:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Candelaria Niswender

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