Once upon a time, there was a girl who played in six soccer games over a period of four days. She had not attempted such a feat in years, and at the end of the tournament she found that her right foot hurt. She figured it was from the volume of the games, figured it would feel better in a few days, and forgot about it.
However, the foot pain persisted.
It occasionally turned into a burning sensation on the ball of her foot, and sometimes hurt a lot, and sometimes hardly at all. This continued for nine months, and steadily got worse.
(Weird- got worse? Well, of course it did, as she had foolishly hoped the mere passage of time and cessation of multiple soccer games in a short period of time would heal the situation.)
She wondered if she was developing a neuroma whereby the nerve gets pinched in between the bones of the feet and causes swelling and pain. The treatment of neuromas didn’t sound promising- a shot of cortisone in the affected area. This would apparently either numb or kill off the nerve, neither of which sounded like a great solution.
Then one day she went to yoga, and the initial focus of the class was on the foot.
The first exercise was to lift all toes off the ground and spread all of the toes apart, so she tried, and immediately noticed that the middle toes of her right foot wouldn’t split apart. The two toes appeared stuck together, and coincidentally this was the exact spot where the foot hurt!
Could the toes stuck together be the reason the foot was hurting in that exact spot? It seemed very likely, and thus she resolved to figure out how to get those toes to move independently of each other and break loose the apparent adhesion in the foot bones, which might be creating a neuroma situation. Neuromas can happen when the tarsal bones squeeze the nerve in between them, and she figured if she could get the bones to move again, maybe the nerve wouldn’t be so mad!
The first exercise was to lace the fingers inbetween each toe to create some separation. This was an increíble stretch, but it is tricky to sit for extended periods of time with her fingers in her toes, so she hoped there would be other things to try.
The next exercise the yoga teacher offered was to try lifting all four toes off the ground and simultaneously keep the big toe on the ground. This was more difficult than she thought it would be, and if you have trouble with getting your toes to cooperate, the suggestion was to lean down and use your fingers to coordinate your toes.
Further, try lifting the big toe off the ground, and keeping the other toes on the ground. (Also more difficult than anticipated, but possible with a little help from the fingers 🙂
Third, scrunching a towel (wood or slippery floors work best) gets all those little foot muscles working with all five toes, and then stretch and extend all toes up and out in the opposite direction.
Finally, she tried a gel toe separator, which she likened to a pedicure toe separator on steroids. This allowed the plantar fascia (the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot) to stretch for an extended period of time without having to lace her fingers through her toes. This was a great replacement for the finger exercise.
What was the result or all this attention lavished on her foot?
The tiniest gap between the two toes that seemed stuck together, and a significant decrease in the nerve pain that had been plaguing her for months!
Yippee!! Give these simple foot exercises a whirl…can’t hurt, might help….and who knows, maybe you could PREVENT foot pain from ever happening. What a concept!
Have you had foot pain? What worked for you? Please let me know in the comments below!