How can a physical therapist help relieve pain on the bottom of your foot?

inner foot arch pain

Experiencing persistent pain along the bottom of your foot? Foot pain tends to be a major source of discomfort. It can also hinder your ability to engage in your regular daily routine. Foot pain varies in intensity — for some people, it can be relatively mild; for others, it can feel debilitating. Even if your foot pain is mild, addressing it is still important. Leaving foot pain untreated can lead to symptoms worsening over time. When it comes to addressing foot pain, physical therapy can be a great option.

Physical therapists address foot pain in a variety of ways. The specific treatments you receive will depend on your individual circumstances. Your capacity, wellness goals and the condition causing your pain are all relevant factors. Want to know more about how physical therapy can help? Learning about some of the ways physical therapists address foot pain can help you understand why PT is a top choice for pain relief.

How a physical therapist can help relieve bottom-of-foot pain

  • Manual therapy — Physical therapists use a variety of hands-on techniques to relieve foot pain. Collectively, these techniques are known as manual therapy. In addition to addressing the pain on the bottom of your foot, manual therapy can also improve your circulation and mobility. Common manual therapy techniques include the strain-counterstrain method and soft tissue mobilization. Your physical therapist will choose techniques based on your condition and treatment needs.
  • Targeted exercises — Exercises are a core aspect of physical therapy. For foot pain, strengthening exercises as well as focused stretches may be beneficial. Targeted stretching can be key to alleviating painful tension in the bottom of your foot. Strengthening exercises can also be helpful, as foot pain is often associated with muscle weakness and dysfunction. With a personalized exercise regimen, you can take an active role in your recovery journey.
  • Videotaped gait analysis — Your physical therapist will take a video of you running or walking in a 2D analysis. Utilizing software, your physical therapist will break down your biomechanics and make recommendations that may include a shoe change and/or orthotic. 
  • Activity modifications — Sometimes certain habits exacerbate bottom-of-foot pain. If you have an injury on the bottom of your foot, for example, continuing to go for long, hard runs every day can make your injury worse. Once your condition is identified, your physical therapist may recommend activity modifications. Making some slight adjustments to your routine can be a great way to alleviate your symptoms and prevent more foot issues in the future.

Why does the bottom of my foot hurt when I walk?

If your foot pain gets more intense when you walk, this may narrow down the potential causes of your pain. Explaining your pain to your physical therapist in detail can help ensure that you receive an accurate diagnosis. Want to learn more about the conditions that can cause foot pain while walking? Here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Plantar fasciitis — The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. Plantar fasciitis occurs when this band becomes inflamed. Inflammation of the plantar fascia can lead to symptoms including persistent pain and stiffness. Plantar fasciitis is a very common cause of heel and arch pain. It is typically associated with overuse, repetitive stress and improper footwear. If you have plantar fasciitis, your physical therapist can work with you to find long-term solutions.
  • Heel spurs — Is your foot pain localized around your heel? If so, the cause might be bone spurs on the heel bone. Bone spurs are little bony growths that can develop on the edges of bones throughout the body. Typically, they are caused by activities that put extra stress on the feet. If you run frequently, for example, you might be at a heightened risk for bone spurs in the heel. Your physical therapist can offer a great array of techniques for managing your heel spurs and finding relief from your symptoms.
  • Foot mechanics — Abnormal foot mechanics often contribute to pain while walking. Two of the most common biomechanical issues are overpronation and supination. Overpronation happens when you roll your foot inward too much when you walk. Supination, sometimes called under pronation, is essentially the opposite. Supination means you do not roll your feet inward enough when walking. After analyzing your gait, your physical therapist can help you correct these mechanical issues.
  • Metatarsalgia — Experiencing pain in the ball of your foot (the region right behind your toes)? The cause could be metatarsalgia. Metatarsalgia refers to painful inflammation in the ball of your foot. This condition can be caused by an injury or by putting too much stress on the forefoot. Tight footwear is another factor that can add to stress around the front of your foot. If you have metatarsalgia, physical therapy can be crucial to recovery.

Why does the bottom of my foot hurt in the middle?

Experiencing pain specifically in the center area of your foot? The conditions that cause pain around the foot’s middle are sometimes different from the issues that cause pain in the heel or toes. Learning about some of the conditions that cause pain in the middle of the foot might help you get a better understanding of your own condition.

  • Flat feet — Does the entire bottom of your foot touch the ground when you stand up? This is a condition typically called pes planus, fallen arches or flat feet. Having flat feet can put more stress on the middle part of your foot. Over time, this can result in pain and discomfort around that region. Pain caused by flat feet tends to worsen when your feet are bearing weight and experiencing heavy impacts. High-impact activities such as running and jumping can lead to acute pain in the middle of your feet if you have fallen arches. Looking for ways to manage the symptoms of your flat feet? Physical therapy can help.
  • Stress fractures — Stress fractures are tiny cracks in bone. They are typically caused by stress and repetitive impacts. These fractures can lead to increased tension and pain in the surrounding area. Stress fractures can occur in bones throughout the body, but the feet are one of the most common areas. This is because feet tend to take a lot of stress, especially the feet of athletic individuals. Unlike some more severe bone injuries, stress fractures can heal with time. However, this does not mean they should be ignored. If you have stress fractures, rest is essential. Your physical therapist can also offer suggestions to promote healing and relieve your pain while you recover.
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome — Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs in the ankle, but its symptoms can affect the whole foot. Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist, tarsal tunnel syndrome is a peripheral neuropathy. This means it is a nerve issue outside of the central nervous system. Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the tibial nerve, which runs through the ankle. The condition is called tarsal tunnel syndrome because the tibial nerve is located in the tarsal tunnel. When the tarsal tunnel gets inflamed, it can compress the tibial nerve, causing pain and numbness in the foot. If you have tarsal tunnel syndrome, PT can be crucial to managing your symptoms and finding a long-term solution.

SSOR can help address the pain on the bottom of your foot

Ready to get treatment for your bottom-of-foot pain? You can get expert care at SSOR (Specialists in Sports and Orthopedic Rehabilitation). Our team is dedicated to offering the highest level of care to each patient. Working with your physical therapist, you can develop a treatment plan designed to meet your needs and relieve your foot pain.

Call us or request an appointment today to get started on your pain relief journey.