6 Reasons Why Walking Hurts (And How We Can Help)
Are you wondering why walking hurts? As podiatrists in Spring and Tomball TX, we love it when our patients walk more. After all, this is a low-impact way to get exercise and stay healthy. But we also know that some foot problems make it painful for you to walk.
Recently, one of our patients came in for just that reason. She shared this experience anonymously, to express her thanks for pain relief:
“My first time to see a podiatrist! Never thought I would need one. I went in with pain when walking, left with no pain at all! Was scared it would hurt to get the pain gone, but NO! I am very happy to come back a couple times a year to not have pain. Thank you Dr Walsh!”
Now, it’s always our pleasure to relieve your foot pain. But we also like to help you stop problems before they develop. That’s why, today, we’re exploring the top 10 reasons why it hurts when you walk. And offering ways to prevent or treat those conditions and concerns.
1. Heel pain (plantar fasciitis)
If you notice pain in your heels, especially when you first get out of bed, you may have plantar fasciitis. Remember, your plantar fascia is a band of tissue that begins at your heel bone and runs beneath your arch, to the ball of your foot. If you overwork your legs, calf muscles or feet, it can stretch or even tear. The resulting inflammation leaves you with awful heel pain that will get worse if left untreated.
Often, we see this type of pain if you suddenly increased your exercise. So if you went from walking one block to one mile each day, your heels may pay the price. To prevent this issue, try to gradually work up to longer or faster walking routines. Always wear supportive sneakers, even if you’re just strolling. And make sure to stretch your leg and calf muscles before and after walking. Finally, if you have flat feet or high arches, investing in custom orthotics can help support your walks and prevent heel pain.
2. Ingrown toenails
The pain of an ingrown toenail can make it hard to walk. And, walking in the wrong shoes could increase your risk for an ingrown nail! You see, we’ll diagnose you with this problem if your nail grows into the flesh of your toe. You may also notice the skin in the area reddens. It will be sore and may even develop pus or drainage.
Several things can increase your risk for ingrown toenails. If you trim your nails too short, or cut them with a curve, the nail’s growth may turn inward. Injuries, or repetitive banging against the edge of your shoe, can also increase your risk. So, to prevent ingrown toenails, carefully trim your nail straight across, leaving plenty of visible white nail. And be sure to wear shoes that leave enough room to wiggle your toes, but not more than that. If you have too much or too little space left in your shoes, your nails will bang against the hard edges of the shoe, increasing your injury risk.
If pain on the side of your big toe is an issue, and there’s any type of bump in the area, you could have a bunion. Bunions develop because the bones in your big toe joint, or on the outer side of your big or little toe, move out of alignment. This causes painful swelling, and can make it harder to wear your walking shoes without pain. Or be a major reason why walking hurts.
Often, genetics are responsible for bunion growth. Your risk also increases if you have or arthritis. You may be able to prevent bunion growth by always wearing supportive shoes and avoiding high heels. Conservative treatments, like padding and icing, can also keep small bunions from growing larger or becoming too painful. But surgery is the only way to get rid of bunions so that your shoes will fit properly, and your walks can once again be pain free.
If pain in the ball of your foot is why walking hurts, you could have a Morton’s neuroma. This condition develops when the tissue around your nerve becomes hard and inflamed. You may notice pain as well as numbness or tingling in the area. The best way to prevent neuromas is to avoid narrow shoes that pinch your toes and put pressure on the tissue around your nerves. And, if you develop a neuroma, treatment will range from transitioning you into roomier shoes, fitting you with shock-absorbing orthotics, or operating to remove the troubled nerve.
5. Stress fractures
If you suddenly notice pain or tenderness in your foot or lower leg, it could be that a stress fracture is why walking hurts. Now, like any other type of break, having a stress fracture means you’ve got a crack in your bone. It’s just a small one.
Stress fractures most often develop in your lower leg, because of all the stress you put on the area when you walk or run. Also, stress fractures often develop if you ignore shin splints. (That’s how we describe strained muscles in your lower legs.)
How can shin splints lead to stress fractures? If your muscle gets worn down, your bones will start absorbing the shock of walking or other exercises. Soon enough, all that pressure can lead your bones to break.
There are a few different ways you can prevent stress fractures. First, don’t ignore muscle pain. At the first sign of a problem, stop your normal walking routine, and request an appointment with us if you don’t feel better after a few days staying off your feet.
You should also include lots of vitamin d and calcium in your diet, to keep your bones strong. Always wear supportive sneakers. And replace your shoes regularly, to make sure they remain supportive. Finally, if you suspect you’ve got any of these injuries or foot conditions, we want to stop walking through the pain. Instead, give us a call and request an immediate appointment. We’ll conduct a thorough exam and make sure it’s safe for you to get back to walking. As soon as possible!
Sources: Prevention Magazine