Caring for Feet

Joint disorders | September 19, 2017 | Author: Naturopath


Caring for Feet

They carry us through life from our very first steps and we wonder, why when we are older, our feet hurt - have we taken as good care of them as they have of us? Standing up for feet!-

How they handle the load

Caring for feetThe ankle (tarsus) consists of 7 tarsal bones which includes the heel (calcaneus).  During walking, half our body weight is transmitted to the heel (calcaneus) and the other half is transmitted to other tarsal bones. The bones of the feet are arranged in two arches that are held is position by ligaments and tendons.  This arch enables the foot to support the weight of the body, distributing the weight over soft and hard tissue and providing leverage while walking.


The arches absorb shock, yield when weight is applied and spring back when weight is lifted. Flatfoot (fallen arches) can occur when the ligaments and tendons of the arch become weakened. This can happen from excess weight, postural abnormalities, weakened support tissue or genetics. Fallen arches may lead to inflammation of the deep fascia of the sole (plantar fasciitis), Achilles tendinitis, shin splints, stress fractures, bunions and calluses. Arch supports are usually prescribed for this condition.

If you are experiencing foot pain

At the rear of the foot

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Fat pad contusion is known as bruised heel or stone bruise and can be an acute  or a chronic  condition caused by a fall from a height onto the heal or from excess heel strike with poor heel cushioning
  • Calcaneal stress fracture is a fracture of the heel

Mid foot pain 

  • Tendinitis often from over-use or overly tight shoe laces
  • Stress fractures - this is  common in athletes
  • Midtarsal joint sprains from foot instability

Forefoot problems can include

  • Bunions
  • Corns and callus caused by excessive pressure on the skin
  • Stress fractures of the metatarsals
  • Metatarsalgia is pain and tenderness from repetitive stress
  • Onychocrytosis  (ingrown toenails) occurring from abnormal nail growth or poor nail cutting and may include infection
  • Plantar warts these occur as a result of papova-virus entering via a breakage in the skin. They can be deep-seated and cause pain on pressure


Another common concern can be a fungal infection. Commonly known as Athlete’s foot, Tinea pedis causes uncomfortable itching, burning and a scaly rash.

tineaTinea is highly contagious and thrives in hot and moist areas and can infect the feet and toenails.

Treatment consists of using anti- fungal medication, practising good hygiene and keeping the area dry.

Tea tree oil can offer symptomatic treatment of tinea pedis and onychomycosis (nail infection).

Choose natural fibre for foot wear and socks such as leather, canvas, cotton and wool, to allow the foot area to breathe. If using communal bathrooms such as at the gym or holiday parks etc. consider wearing rubber thongs to avoid infection.

Plantar Warts

Plantar warts resemble small, hard lumps often with black dots on the sole of the feet and can be very painful. They are caused the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) virus and will often just appear and disappear on their own - but it may take some time. If they are giving you trouble you can visit the doctor to have the frozen off (cryotherapy) or do it yourself with product from the pharmacy. Strong peeling medicine containing salicylic acid can be used but it will take time. As it is caused by a virus, boosting the immune system will often support other wart removal therapies.


It is extremely important for diabetics to take care of their feet. Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes where the nerves in your feet and legs become damaged from sugar levels being too high. This can mean you lose sensation in your feet and don’t realise you have hurt yourself. Check your blood glucose regularly and check your feet and legs daily for signs of injury. Apply moisturiser on feet and legs to prevent dryness and wear protective foot wear at all times to protect your feet from injury. A study done by Chu, C. et al. found low serum magnesium levels are associated with impaired peripheral nerve function in type 2 diabetic patients, discuss with your health care provider whether magnesium supplements are right for you

Corns, Calluses and Bunions

corn, calluses and bunionsCorns and Calluses will appear usually from poor fitting shoes (especially high heels) and unbalanced walking motion but can also be from not wearing socks with shoes and foot deformaties. 

Corns are a small patch of thickened, dead skin with a small plug of skin in the centre. They generally occur between the toes or on the side of the feet. Some doctors believe this condition is caused by blocked sweat ducts.

Calluses are rough and hard patches of skin that can develope anwhere on the body where friction is experienced.

Once you have corrected your foot wear you may find your calluses and corns disappear but in the mean time applying a suitable cover to protect the area can help. 

Bunions (hallux valgus), are a bony deformity at the base of the joint of the big toe that appears as a bony bump at the side of the foot. It may be callused, tender to touch and may become swollen, red and shiny. Causes can include wearing narrow fitting shoes, high heels and having flat feet. There is also considered an inherited component and  possible arthritis. Bunions can be a risk factor for falls in the elderly as balance and gait may be affected. Your doctor may consider orthopaedic shoes, surgery or medication for this condition.

Do you need support?

As much as we love our pretty shoes and how lovely our legs look in heels, the role of our shoes is to support and protect our feet. Poor fitting shoes can not only make your feet sore, they can also affect how you walk putting strain on your knees and hips. First step in helping your feet is check your regular shoes are offering you enough support.


Inserting an orthosis (orthotic) can be a quick way of getting pain relief. Studies have found the use of prefabricated or custom made orthotics reduce pain and improve function in acute plantar fasciitis.

Whether you choose to use an insert in your shoes or sandals with raised arch support, studies have found they are equal in offering arch support.

 Another study reported the use of heel cup with an arch support innersole significantly improved standing balance and stability in the elderly. Offering better postural stability will help prevent falls and help elderly folk feel more confident on standing and walking.


A Podiatrist is trained to assess, diagnose and treat foot and lower limb problems. These may include skin and nail problems, foot and ankle injuries, foot complications related to diabetes and other medical conditions and problems with gait or walking (information from the Australian Podiary association). If you have any concerns it is worth a trip to the podiatrist to have them professionally checked out.

tired feetTired feet

Long days on your feet can make your feet feel tired. Magnesium spray or roll on can offer quick relief or why not give them a treat with a soak in a foot bath or bucket. Epsom salts or magnesium flakes or gel will help relax muscles, tendons and ligament and revitalize feet.

Weight loss

We know its true! If you are carrying too much weight think of your feet. Fallen arches is the beginning of so many foot complaints as stated before. Losing weight will not only make you feel better and help with other health issues such as elevated blood pressure and diabetes, but it can also help eleviate the pressure on feet.

Natural anti-inflammatories


turmericDiabetic neuropathic pain is a common complication of diabetes with symptoms that include deep pain in the feet and legs, loss of the sense of warm or cold accompanied by muscular cramps, numbness and weakness; tingling or burning sensation in the extremities, particularly the feet. Hyperalgesia (enhanced sensitivity and responsivity to stimulation of the area around the damaged tissue is the typical characteristic feature of neuropathic pain.

Based on evidence on the action turmeric, possible from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective action, it is concluded that curcumin may help with diabetic neuropathy and maybe any other condition where pain and inflammation are present.

Other herbs that may be helpful for painful conditions of the feet include; Capsaicin (chili pepper), Uncaria tomentosa (cat’s claw), Boswellia serrata resin (Frankincense) and Pycnogenol (maritime pine bark).
Take care of your feet and your feet will thank you! Australia’s best online discount chemist


Tortora Gerald J., Derrickson Bryan, 2006 Principles of Anatomy and Physiology 11th edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Brukner P, Khan K, 1993, Clinical Sports Medicine, McGraw-Hill Book Company Aust

Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition


Chu, C. et al. Low serum magnesium levels are associated with impaired peripheral nerve function in type 2 diabetic patients. Sci. Rep. 6, 32623; doi: 10.1038/srep32623 (2016).

Orthotics Compared to Conventional Therapy and Other Non-Surgical Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis

A radiographic and anthropometric study of the effect of a contoured sandal and foot orthosis on supporting the medial longitudinal arch

Effectiveness of a heel cup with an arch support insole on the standing balance of the elderly

Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief

An Overview of Curcumin in Neurological Disorders

Hyperalgesia and Sensitization


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