Painful Feet While Walking

Painful Feet While Walking

It’s the worst when the arches in your feet start aching with each step you take.


You’ll probably blame your shoes, your fitness, or your weight.

Face it; walking is an awesome, and free, way to commute and to exercise.

Start putting some miles on those treads of yours!

But, man alive, is it a bad day when you’re far from where you started and your feet ache. All you’ve got is some grumbling and hobbling to wherever you’re headed to.


A Common Hitch in the Giddyup

I recently worked with a woman who was getting back to her walking routine after a hiatus. She desired to get “back in shape” and has some fitness goals she’d like to keep.

She informed me she has a history of plantar fasciitis and would really like to avoid a repeat of that if at all possible.

As she highlighted her story for me so I could better understand and figure out where to start, something she said piqued my interest.

She shared with me how her foot pain was worse while walking; her arches cramp up and she feels like she’s slow as a turtle in peanut butter.

Bingo! I found a place to start.


Keep Calm and Keep Walking

Walking is a whole-body activity. Or it should be and commonly isn’t.

With each step you take the muscles on the back of your body work in concert to strongly push off the ground to propel the leg forward. Many muscles are involved in the process, and for the most optimized efficiency, these muscles need to work in the proper sequence.


It all starts with the glutes, because the glutes are life.




I’ve wandered from the story a bit…

To review, she says she meanders slowly and her arches hurt.

A common compensation pattern at play here is the feet trying to do all the work for sleepy glutes.

Through a quick muscle function evaluation this is exactly what we found: her gluteus maximus, a powerful driver in walking, was sleeping at the wheel and the muscles in her feet were stepping up to take up the slack to propel her forward.

Those muscles, while a part of the process, aren’t designed to do the lion’s share of the work, so when they step up and step in for the lack of power in the glutes, they will fatigue and you will feel a deep ache with each step.

It’s like when you pick up the workload for a co-worker that’s a major slacker…you get tired and cranky too.

It’s not that you’re out of shape. Don’t blame your shoes. Or your weight.


What Do We Do?

A reasonable and effective massage therapy approach to this scenario is to massage the muscles in the foot, especially from the big toe to the arch, to “turn down the volume”.

Once the foot calms down, the Gmax usually wakes up and starts to do the job better, which is the most opportune time to build some movement memory in the brain.

These corrections are short-term, since the brain’s go-to is the dysfunctional pattern, so releasing and activating are a part of a daily homework routine, usually for a couple of weeks as your brain remembers what the most efficient way to walk is.

What you feel is less foot pain and more enjoyable walking so you can keep on moving!


Try this solution to your foot pain see if it helps.  If it doesn’t, let’s make it a point to meet up to see if this compensation pattern is in effect in you.  Foot pain is a symptom of many different dysfunctional movement patterns, so for the best success, we need to see exactly which ones are at play in your situation and customize the work 100% to you.

To schedule time to check, click here to make an appointment.

Healthy Foot Workshops are also available, and include everything you need to participate in an incredible movement-based class.  Check the schedule for dates!


The Case of The Nasty Neck

The Case of The Nasty Neck

A pain in the neck, that’s what I had. A real one, not a metaphorical one.

Have you ever had a neck ache so bad it wouldn’t go away no matter what you tried to relieve the pressure and tension?

Massage, stretching, cracking, heat or ice, a dose of something out of a bottle of various sorts; nothing helps.

After a week of doing a lot of reading in bed where I was propped up by pillows in a variety of wonky positions, my neck was yelling and screaming at me.

The tension, despite my best expert efforts, continued to build until I felt a spillover of crankiness in my jaw and a headache building on the horizon.

I could feel a lovely [sarcasm font] knot on the lower right portion of the back of my neck.

As any quality massage therapist worth their salt would do, I zeroed in on that right-sided knot and spent some time coaxing it to relax.

It did nothing for my neck and jaw junk.


Fast Forward


A few days later I was on the teaching staff for the next round of Neurokinetic Therapy in Chicago.

I found myself in a room full of highly achieved manual and movement therapists from a wide array of disciplines who needed to practice their manual muscle testing. I had some muscles in need of testing. Can’t do it myself, so, why not?

I took one for the team [wink].


I Had It All Wrong


The case of my Naughty Neck was not even close to what I expected it to be.

Most days in clinic, I find people have a lot of overwork happening in the muscles in the back of their neck.

These guys (neck extensors for the kinesiologically literate) like to work overtime, usually because of a history of car accidents/whiplash, and lots of hours logged sitting with slumpy posture over a computer keyboard, handheld device, or steering wheel.

Also, because of a lack of core strength, but that is a story left for another day.

There are muscles encircling your neck that function to move your head and sustain your posture. The human head weighs roughly 12 pounds.

I see a lot of only half of those muscles actually doing their job to hold and move the head.

Neck ache ensues, and left unchecked over decades, it can really wear out the hardware in your neck (read: joint changes that limit your ability to move your head around and maybe cause discomfort).


Quit Guessing


Here I was, massaging that knot on the lower part of my neck.

Remember, this wasn’t helping even a little. It was completely ineffective at relieving the ache that was building daily.

When I had another practitioner test out the neurological function of my neck muscles, we found I had it 100% backwards.

I assumed.

I guessed.

My guess was incorrect.

In my case, the knot on the back wasn’t forming because those tissues were overworking, but because they were underperforming.

The tight muscle was on the front of my neck, where it didn’t hurt, and the backside guys had no chance of keeping up.

I released the correct muscle on the front of my neck, and the painful spot on the back of my neck went away all on it’s own.

So did my jaw tension.

I could have sworn I heard it sigh with relief.

Oh wait….that was me.


This is another great example why we can’t assume and guess we know what’s going on.

When you feel pain, tightness, or tension in your body, it’s always for a reason.

It’s trying to communicate something with you about how your body is functioning.

Too often practitioners only look at the painful spot you point to, but that painful spot is only a fraction of the story.

Without actually looking at what the tissue function looks like, you are left with a guess, and like me, that guess could be wrong.

Wrong guesses keep you from feeling your best.

If you feel like you aren’t firing on all cylinders and have an ache or pain that is really cramping your style, make sure to get it checked out! 

I’m currently accepting new clients and have time to do some evaluations and super sleuthing to see if what I do can help you out.

You deserve it.