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!