The Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Alleviating Foot Pain. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now!

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Alleviating Foot Pain. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now
The Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Alleviating Foot Pain. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now

So many clients come to me with pain or issues originating in their feet that I always say, "Thank God He gave us two of them!" Our feet have a huge impact on our whole body, but most people don’t give them a second thought until a problem arises.

Anatomically, the fascia in the foot is connected to the calf, the hamstring, the glutes, the low back, the thoracic spine, the neck, and all the way up over the head to the eyebrows. If you drew a line connecting all of these spots, you would be connecting what Thom Meyers, the author of Anatomy Trains, calls the Superficial Back Line.

How can I relieve my foot pain?

Let's start with a few basics. One of these things, or a combination of them, may be the secret sauce to relieving your foot pain.

1. Rest 

If you've been on your feet a lot, resting and elevating your feet can help reduce inflammation and ease discomfort.

2. Ice 

Applying a cold pack or ice to the painful area for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day, can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

3. Over-the-counter pain relievers

Non-prescription medicines like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve foot pain. However, these should be used responsibly and only as directed.

4. Footwear

Wearing shoes that are comfortable and provide good support can make a big difference. You might consider shoes with a wide toe box, arch support, and a cushioned sole. Orthotic inserts can also be helpful.

5. Stretching and strengthening exercises

Some types of foot pain can be eased with regular stretching and strengthening exercises. For example, exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the Achilles tendon and the muscles in your feet and lower legs can help if you have plantar fasciitis.

6. Weight management

Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the amount of stress on your feet.

7. Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can provide you with a personalized exercise regimen that targets the specific areas causing your foot pain.

8. Massage

Massage can improve circulation, stimulate muscles, reduce pain, and promote relaxation. You can do this yourself or hire a professional.

It's important to know the cause of your foot pain in order to effectively treat it. The cause could be anything from a simple sprain to a more complex issue like plantar fasciitis or a stress fracture. It's always best to consult a healthcare provider for a diagnosis if your foot pain is severe or if these basic self-care measures don't help.

What are the different types of foot pain?

Foot pain can be a result of different conditions that affect various parts of the foot. Here are some common types of foot pain and their causes:

1. Heel Pain

This could be due to plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. Another cause could be Achilles tendinitis, an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon, the band of tissue that connects the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone.

2. Arch Pain

This can result from a condition called flat feet or fallen arches, where the arch of the foot is flat and the entire foot touches the floor when standing. It could also be due to plantar fasciitis.

3. Ball of Foot Pain (Metatarsalgia)

This is often caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes, high-impact activities, or underlying conditions. Morton's neuroma, which involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes, is another potential cause.

4. Toe Pain

This could be from ingrown toenails, bunions (a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe), hammer toe (a deformity where the toe bends or curls downward instead of pointing forward), or gout (a type of arthritis that usually affects the big toe).

5. Side of the Foot Pain

This might be due to an ankle sprain or a fracture, or conditions like cuboid syndrome, where the cuboid bone is dislocated.

6. Top of Foot Pain

This could be due to extensor tendonitis, which is inflammation of the tendons that run along the top of the foot, or a stress fracture in one of the five metatarsal bones that run along the top of the foot.

7. Pain in the Back of the Foot

This is often due to Achilles tendinitis or bursitis, an inflammation of the small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the Achilles tendon.

Remember that foot pain can be a complex issue, and these are just potential causes. Anyone experiencing persistent foot pain should consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

The Back Line Fascia Test

One way to experience this connection is to perform a self-scan with a Back-Line Fascia Test. Start by bending over and touching your toes. You might not reach them, but that’s okay. When you’re down there, do a body scan. Ask yourself a few questions:

Where are you tight or restricted?

Where are you flexible?

Do your hands drape over evenly?

Are you feeling any discomfort?

Now, come up from this position and move to the Foot Release Work described below.

For the purposes of the facial test, you only want to release one foot at a time. After you’ve completed the release work on the first foot, you redo the Back-Line Fascia Test.

Upon redoing your body scan, you might notice your tightness, discomfort, and/or restrictions on the side you did the release work are gone or drastically decreased.

What might be more noticeable is the drape of your hands.

The side you did the release work on will be much closer to the floor than the side that you have not released yet. 

This little experiment proves the existence of Thom Meyers Superficial Back Line.

After completing the whole process of the scan and release work on one side of the body, move to the other foot.

Cheryl Dunn doing some stretching.

Foot Release Work

Draw three imaginary lines down your foot, with all three starting at the heel and moving towards the toes.One is traveling down the middle of the foot; one goes along the inside of the foot; and one goes along the outer edge of the foot.

Grab a small ball. I like to use a foot rubz ball, but a small golf ball or a tennis ball will work. The foot rubz ball and golf ball will be more accurate, but also a little more tender to the fascia in the foot versus using a tennis ball.

Start by placing the ball at the heel on the middle line. Gently unweight the standing leg (this is the leg that does not have a ball under it) and put at least 75% of your weight into the ball. Repeat this unweighting three times.

pic 1 Foot-Release-Photo

Then move the ball slightly forward towards the toes, staying on the middle line. Repeat the unweighting movement three times in this spot.

Continue to move the ball up the middle line, unweighting three times in each spot and hitting at least four spots along the line.

After you have completed this with the middle line, begin doing it on the inside line and the outside line. Upon completing all three lines, redo your Back-Line Fascia Test.

pic 2 foot-rubz-image-for-article


Upon retesting, you might notice the arm on the same side you released the foot hangs much longer than the side you have not released. You might also feel a little looser in the low back or hamstrings. What might be most obvious is how different the foot itself feels.

Now it’s time to repeat all of this on the second foot! 

Daily Routine

I know this little foot release program is very time-consuming. Therefore, it’s hard to get people to do this too often. I would recommend this routine two to three times a week in the beginning if you are trying to get rid of plantar fasciitis or even low back pain.

But on a daily basis, I recommend something that is a little quicker and simpler. As soon as I get out of the shower, I put lotion or oil on my feet with the intention of giving them a little love. You can massage the sole, then split each toe forward and back. Then interlace your fingers between each toe to laterally spread the web of the toes. This little extra attention to your feet will help you stand a little taller!

cheryl dunn doing some stretching on her toes
cheryl dunn doing some stretching on her toes
cheryl dunn doing some stretching on her toes

With a little time and TLC, your feet will feel better in no time!

The Mayo Clinic's website has an extensive collection of health-related information, including a section dedicated to foot pain. Here is a link to their page on foot pain: Foot pain

Physical Therapy Studies:

Revolutionize Your Running Overcoming Injuries & Boosting Performance with the Blue Belt Technique

Revolutionize Your Running Overcoming Injuries & Boosting Performance with the Blue Belt Technique

Cheryl’s Personal Story: Running at 50

Running has been a constant in my life since I was in high school, but it hasn't always been easy. I've faced injuries and setbacks along the way, but I've also learned how to adapt and make changes to keep running as I've gotten older.

I was told to stop running after a tailbone injury in high school and again after a snowboard injury in my mid-20s. But I didn't let those setbacks keep me down. Instead, I found ways to modify my running routine and incorporate other exercises to support my body.

Now, at 50 years old, I continue to run 5 miles in the rolling hills with my boxer five days a week. How do I do it? By incorporating all the tips and strategies listed in this blog, as well as Pilates, GYROTONIC(R), and GYROKINESIS(R) exercises, into my exercise routine over 20 years ago. These exercises have helped me build strength, flexibility, and endurance, all of which have contributed to my ability to keep running.

I firmly believe that it's never too late to start taking care of your body and incorporating exercise into your routine. If you're dealing with an injury or other limitations, don't give up on exercise altogether; instead, find ways to modify and adapt your routine to work with your body's needs.


Running Tips for Injury Prevention and Better Performance

Blue Belt Technique

One of the first things I teach my fitness clients is to put on their "Blue Belt".

In studio, I put a nylon belt around the bones of their pelvis and squeeze it pretty snugly so they could understand the sensation. It just so happens to be blue, which is why we call it the "blue belt".

When this belt is around the pelvis, it simulates the activation of three main muscle groups: 

1. The Transverse Abdominus 

2. The Pelvic Floor and 

3. The Multifidus Muscles along the spine. 

When these muscles are active, there is a support system in the body that facilitates relaxation in the neck and shoulders, effortless upright posture, and equal weight distribution among the feet. It evokes a feeling of physical peace.

Everyone’s first question is "Can we wear this all the time?". "NO!" If you were to wear this belt all the time, that muscle group would become weak and not support you at all. That’s a recipe for disaster.

At home, you can use any belt around your pelvis to simulate this tool. It can sometimes be difficult to get the belt tight enough on your own, so if you have the option, you might ask a buddy to help with this step.

Now, here’s the real goal: After you take your belt off, can you put your imaginary belt on? Remember the sensation and engage the same muscle groups. By doing this, you begin to train your muscles to support a posture that will decrease the stress on the body. This is true for all your daily activities, but especially when you’re exercising.

Remember the next time you’re out running to put on your imaginary "blue belt."


Lean Forward Slightly While Running

My second tip is to slightly lean forward when you run. Most running coaches recommend this lean, but the one thing that needs clarity is the place in your body where this lean is coming from.

Be careful not to lean forward from the hips or waist. If you lean from the hips or waist, it can put too much strain on your low back. Rather, this lean should be at the ankle joint.

Practice this standing still. Put on your imaginary belt, and then slightly lean forward from the ankle. It gives you the feeling of falling forward. If you’re doing this while you run, it will propel you forward. When you are being propelled forward during your run, your speed will increase.

Now, let's dive into some more tips on running.

Running is a well-liked workout that can aid with cardiovascular health, mood enhancement, and calorie burning. Whether you're an experienced runner or just getting started, it's crucial to take precautions to avoid injuries and enhance your performance. In this blog post, we'll provide some running safety and efficiency advice. Warm up and cool down properly.


Warming Up Before a Run

Before a run, warming up can help your body get ready for the physical demands of running, lower your risk of injury, and boost performance. Dynamic stretching should come after a brief round of light aerobic activity, such as jumping jacks or stationary jogging. In order to develop flexibility and mobility, dynamic stretching entails extending your joints through their complete range of motion. Leg swings, hip circles, and lunges are some effective dynamic stretches for runners.

It's crucial to cool down with some easy workouts and static stretching after your run. To increase flexibility and avoid muscular tightness, static stretching involves keeping a stretch in a still position for 30 seconds. Hamstring, calf, and quad stretches are a few effective static stretches for runners.

Strengthen Your Muscles and Core

Your running form can be improved, injury risk can be decreased, and performance can be increased by having strong muscles and a stable core. Planks, lunges, hip bridges, and squats are effective workouts for runners. To increase strength and power, you can also integrate resistance training with weights or resistance bands.

Gradually Increase Your Mileage and Intensity

To prevent overuse injuries and develop your endurance, it's crucial to gradually increase your mileage and intensity. As a general guideline, you should only increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% per week. Interval training, hill repeats, and tempo runs are other ways to change the intensity of your workouts.

Wear Proper Shoes and Gear

Wearing the right footwear and accessories can help improve performance and lower the risk of injury. Look for running shoes that are supportive, cushioned, and stable for your foot type. To stay dry and comfortable throughout your runs, you might also wish to invest in apparel that wicks away moisture.

Watch Your Running Form

You may run more effectively and decrease your chance of injury by using proper running form. Keep your head up, shoulders back, arms straight, and fall on your forefoot or midfoot rather than your heel.


Listen to Your Body

Running requires paying attention to your body's signals. Stop running and sit down if you experience any pain or discomfort. Pushing through the discomfort puts you at risk for more severe damage.

Incorporate Cross-Training and Rest Days

Cross-training with different types of exercise, including swimming, cycling, or Pilates, can help you get fitter overall and lower your risk of getting hurt. Rest days are crucial to giving your body the time it needs to heal and recuperate from the physical strains of running.

Physical Therapy Studies:

Here are two studies conducted by physical therapists that provide insights into injury prevention and rehabilitation for runners:

  1. Taunton JE, Ryan MB, Clement DB, et al. A retrospective case-control analysis of 2002 running injuries. Br J Sports Med. 2002;36(2):95-101. doi:10.1136/bjsm.36.2.95
  2. Buist I, Bredeweg SW, Bessem B, van Mechelen W, Lemmink KA, Diercks RL. Incidence and risk factors of running-related injuries during preparation for a 4-mile recreational running event. Br J Sports Med. 2010;44(8):598-604. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2008.04886

External Links:

  1. American Council on Exercise - Running Tips for Beginners
  2. Runner's World - See what they say about shoes in 2023

Incorporating these running tips into your routine can help you get the most out of your running experience while staying safe and injury-free. Remember to start slow, listen to your body, and have fun!

If you're interested in incorporating Pilates, GYROTONIC, or GYROKINESIS into your exercise routine, I invite you to call us at 512-215-4227 to get started with CORE Therapy & Pilates. We offer a range of services, including physical therapy and personalized exercise programs, to help you achieve your fitness goals and support your overall health and wellness.