Our feet carry all of our weight. So, it is not surprising that as weight increases, so can foot pain. In general, people who are obese have a significantly higher rate of foot pain than those who are just overweight or are normal weight (Mickle & Steele, 2015).
Reasons for foot pain
It is obvious that as you weigh more, your feet are asked to do more work. What is not obvious are the actual changes that your feet go through if you put on excess pounds. For example, more weight can cause the structure of your foot to change. People who are obese tend to have broader, thicker and flatter feet (Steele, Harland & Mickle, 2014). These structural changes can even happen to young children who are overweight.
Excess weight can also cause the function of your foot to change. You may have less toe strength or your stride might even become modified. You might also have less ankle flexibility which can make a big difference for your feet.
Exercises you can do
Obesity can be a debilitating condition. Not exercising due to foot pain can make the condition even worse. Unfortunately, figuring out an exercise routine can be tough because foot pain can really limit activity. However, there are a few exercises that might work for you if you are overweight and have foot pain.
For example, a gentle yoga routine may allow you to increase your flexibility which could improve your foot pain.** Swimming** (or aqua therapy) may also be a good option because you could either be off your feet altogether in the pool, or at least be lighter on your feet if you can find a water aerobics class.** Gentle weight lifting** might also be helpful. There are many weight lifting exercises that you can do sitting down or lying on a bench to take the stress off of your feet. The extra muscle mass that you will develop by lifting weights can help increase your metabolism and make it easier to lose the weight.
Your doctor or a certified trainer will be able to tell you which exercises to start with based on your foot pain. It is important that you start addressing the issues sooner than later. Even a small weight loss can significantly reduce your foot pain.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. Learn more about Tracy and what healthy living services and products she can offer on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.