When the foot works well it is amazing. It co-ordinates over 26 bones, 30 joints and 100 soft tissues to work in the right order at the right time. It can handle huge stresses (up to 3-4 times our weight when running) and is both flexible and rigid adapting to different surfaces we walk on. However with all this going on, it is no surprise pain is prevalent in our feet.
In Ehlers Danlos and other connective tissue disorders foot pain is even more common. A study showed that 56% with EDS cannot stand or walk for long periods of time without having foot pain and 43% reported they get irritable when their feet hurt (Bergland et al, 2005).
It is thought we have both issues in timing our foot mechanics as well as our soft tissue being too lax causing issues with the arches of our feet. A lot of us have probably been told we have 'flat feet' in which our arches are too low, but some with Marfans or other forms of EDS have high arches. Its thought that these issues cause excess strain on the muscles, ligaments and tendons which can lead to pain and potential injury. Common issues tend to be overuse causing inflammation of the tissues (e.g. plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the fascia on the bottom of the foot and tendonitis is inflammation of tendons). We are also more prone to calluses, claw toes and bunions - so anyone with EDS/connective tissue disorders needs to take good care of the feet and be mindful in how we look after them!
The main ways to ensure good foot care is:
Sensible foot wear - something that provides the right support
Good foot hygiene - from keeping nails short to washing and drying your foot properly
Strengthening exercises - improving joint stability and proprioception in your foot
Stretching/Foot releases - to keep your muscle balance in your foot
Orthoses/braces if required (only use if recommended after being assessed by a health professional)
Today I wanted to share 6 ways to help stretch and release the soft tissues in your feet. I am most definitely one of those up there that if they have foot pain become really irritable, it stops me sleeping and I can't stand for long at all. Other the years as a physiotherapist and patient I have found these 6 techniques the best at releasing the muscles in your lower leg and foot to help manage foot pain:
1. Stretches - aiming to stretch gastrocnemius, soleus, tibialis posterior, tibialis anterior and all the soft tissues in your feet
2. Foam roller - use on the back and front of your lower leg, you can angle your leg to target different muscle groups
3. Manual release - using your fingers, thumb or knuckle start lightly and build up to a pressure that feels comfortable working all over the foot and lower leg. Or ask a friend!
4. Manual release with Spikey ball - using a spikey ball or massage ball under the arch of your foot, and front and back of lower leg.
5. Manual release with tool - to protect and save my thumbs I use this 'therapists thumb' and its amazing!
6. Electronic manual release - I have used this for a few months and I love it for when my pain levels are high, energys levels or low or if I can't reach my feet (post op)
For links to these products click here
Lots of love,