Foot Health

Foot pain and exercise

At this time of year, beginning a new exercise program is popular and can be very rewarding. However, there can be some set-backs. Foot pain is one of the most common set-backs to any exercise program. A survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association found that foot pain is a major reason why people are not exercising, contributing to our alarming rates of obesity. In the study, as much as 72 percent of persons surveyed admitted they did not exercise because foot pain prevented them from doing so. The feet were listed as the number one body part to experience pain.

Foot pain can put a serious kink in your new exercise routine and contribute to negative health outcomes. It is important for all Bahamians to know that foot pain is not normal and they should seek the care of a podiatrist immediately if foot pain arises or continues, especially after starting an exercise program. Sometimes, mild pain or soreness is the body’s way of adjusting to the new exercise routine and use of muscles and joints that have previously been sedentary.

There are many other causes of foot pain. Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly is one of the most common reasons why people (especially women) get foot pain. Other common causes of foot pain may include heel pain, foot deformities such as bunions and hammertoes, arthritis, trauma, ligament strain, tendinitis, stress fracture or other injuries.

Any persistent pain in the foot or ankle of a walker or runner is a sign that it is time to stop, rest and evaluate the situation. Foot pain that comes on shortly after starting an exercise program can be minor or a sign of a more serious foot condition. One must re-evaluate all aspects of the exercise routine – speed, distance and equipment, including shoes. It is generally best to wait until all foot pains are gone before restarting your exercise. If foot pains persist, in spite of resting, you should see your podiatrist for an evaluation.

It is critical that everyone pay attention to their feet and seek treatment for any foot problems. We recommend that before starting an exercise program, you see your primary care physician for a complete physical exam and your podiatrist to have a foot checkup. Wearing well-fitting, good quality tennis shoes can support the feet during exercise and minimize any chance of injury. Stretching before and after exercising along with warming up and cooling down can also help to prevent injury. Foot exercises will increase flexibility and also prevent injury. Sometimes stretching and other foot exercises can relieve foot pain. They may include calf stretches, calf raises, toe spread and press to strengthen the arch, writing the alphabet with your toes and ankle for range of motion. After all this, if you still have foot pain, it’s time to see the podiatrist.

Adult and childhood obesity is a major concern for all Bahamians, with more than 80 percent being overweight or obese. Exercise is a major strategy to help combat this epidemic. If adults and children have foot pain, they will not exercise or will not do so regularly. Proper foot health and pain-free feet play a vital role in keeping everyone healthy and exercising consistently. Foot health is a good step toward overall health. Visiting a podiatrist to evaluate and fix the cause of any foot pain is important. Remember, foot pain is not normal and if you are having foot pain, pause your workout and consult your local podiatrist.

• For more information email us at, or to see a podiatrist visit Bahamas Foot Centre, Rosetta Street, telephone 325-2996 or Bahamas Surgical Associates Centre, Hilltop Medical Centre, East Terrace Centreville or telephone 394-5820; or Lucayan Medical Centre, East Sunrise Highway, Freeport, Grand Bahama, every first and third Thursday, telephone 373-7400.

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