The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Causes of Foot Pain After A Long Walk and Treatment Options

Posted by on Monday, May 22nd, 2017

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Patients often wonder, “Why do my feet hurt after a long walk?” The most common reason for aching feet is simply inflammation and swelling from blood being forced down into your feet to compensate for the increased pounding. To reduce inflammation that results from walking, you should wear shock-absorbing footwear like hiking boots or athletic trainers, stretch before walking, and bring along a bottle of water to stay hydrated.

If you don’t walk on a regular basis and you try to take a five-mile hike, you will likely suffer foot pain later that day. If your feet still hurt in the morning, it’s definitely a sign you’ve pushed yourself too hard all at once. The good news is, the more you train, the better you should feel.

You should notice improvement from propping your feet up on a few pillows above the heart level, icing your soles, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, or soaking your feet in Epsom salt. Foot pain that persists for more than a couple of days could be a sign of a more serious condition that requires treatment from a NYC podiatrist.

Are your feet hurting after taking a long walk? Image Source: Pixabay user cocoparisienne.
Are your feet hurting after taking a long walk? Image Source: Pixabay user cocoparisienne.

Why Do My Feet Hurt From Walking?

There are many possible reasons for foot pain. When you see our NYC foot and ankle specialists, we’ll ask you about your health history and pain symptoms. We’ll take a look at your foot structure, try to pinpoint your sore spots, and if necessary, we can take x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or ultrasounds to look for damage to the internal structures. Sometimes we can narrow down the culprits behind chronic foot pain based on the area of the foot. For example:

How To Cut Risk Factors For Foot Pain

Lose weight: Losing as little as 5-10 pounds can help with foot pain, as it reduces the load you’re carrying. If you’re hiking or backpacking, traveling lighter will have the same effect.

Change your footwear: Patients are often surprised at what a profound impact a new pair of shoes can have on foot pain. Choose shoes with good arch support, fairly rigid soles, and wide toe boxes. Each foot is different, so you may find it helps to talk to a podiatrist about brands or styles made for feet like yours. If you do a lot of walking, you may need to change your shoes as often as every 3-4 months. Some people benefit from custom orthotics made to the shape of their feet.

Consider your size: If you are an avid walker or hiker, it’s possible that your shoes become too tight as you are walking because of swelling in the feet. We recommend trying on shoes after a long day of standing or walking to gauge the proper size. Be aware that foot size can fluctuate over the course of a person’s lifetime as well, so there is no guarantee that you are the same size you were in college.

Wear the right socks: Some people develop tingling in the balls of their feet and underneath their toes when wet cotton socks bunch up. Consider “high performance” socks that blend cushion with breathability. We recommend merino wool, nylon, or Coolmax. The Smartwool PhD lite mini, Thorlo, and Wigwam are all respected brands in the podiatry community.

Take breaks: Your feet can only take so much micro-trauma, and pain intensifies over long distances and uneven surfaces. After 2.5 miles, it helps to sit down, take your shoes off, and prop your feet up for 15 minutes. After 5 miles, try resting for 45 minutes and having a snack. Alternating rest periods like this helps a lot if your feet are throbbing.

Treat severe pain with ibuprofen: Hikers lovingly refer to ibuprofen as “Vitamin I.” Remember, though, drugs only mask the pain, so it’s important to get any enduring issues checked out by a doctor. For the occasional, odd round of discomfort, ibuprofen can give you the reprieve you need, though.

Treat Foot Pain in NYC

A small pain today could become a crippling disability tomorrow. Luckily, most cases of foot pain can be treated using simple, non-invasive methods. Contact the foot pain specialists at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in Manhattan or White Plains for help combating the day-to-day mobility issues you face.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.