The Effects of Weight on Your Feet (and How to Take a Load Off Your Foot Pain)
Gravity can be a great thing. It keeps us from flying off the planet! Also, it’s a pretty good Sandra Bullock movie.
Gravity is not without its potential downsides, though. Weight affects the way gravity is enforced on our bodies, and our feet and ankles are at the bottom of the picture to hold it all up. Depending on how much we weigh, and how that weight is distributed, we may be likely to suffer from chronic pain, overuse and recurring injuries.
A change in weight can have a big impact on comfort and mobility. The scale doesn’t have to tilt in extremes one way or the other for a noticeable difference, either.
A Little Weight Goes a Long Way
How much pressure would you say 1 pound of weight adds to your feet?
Our biomechanics compounds the matter. That 1 pound equates to 4 pounds of pressure across the ankle and foot. And that is for EACH and EVERY pound. Losing just 10 pounds, say, would remove 40 pounds of pressure every single step!
Our feet and ankles are built to handle literally tons of impact, but they are not infallible. That pressure is there with every step you take, day after day. Eventually, it can take its toll in a number of impeding ways:
Posterior tibial tendinitis (also known as adult-acquired flatfoot)
And that’s just a small sample of painful potential problems that can either develop in part due to excess weight, or become worse as more weight is added.
What to Do About Weight
When excess weight is a problem, the plain and simple answer is to get rid of it.
However, we know that’s much easier said than done. You are not a ship in distress. You can’t just throw cargo overboard to solve the problem.
There is a natural process to losing excess weight, and it can be a challenge for many people to work with—especially if foot and heel pain prevents or restricts activity.
Whenever possible, we focus on keeping or increasing your activity level instead of taking a “Don’t Do That” attitude. It can take a huge effort to get started, certainly. However, once someone begins to lose weight, it tends to make them happier and more comfortable, which makes it easier to lose more weight and be happier still.
Our main goal is to lessen and remove obstacles to your ability to be active. We never want to reduce activity or get back to a just a “baseline” level; we actually want to see activity increase!
So, how do we do that?
Setting You Up to Move
When the goal is to get you moving more and reduce excess weight, we will naturally start with a full evaluation of your current condition, foot and ankle problems, and how your day-to-day life is being affected. If we don’t know your story, how can we possibly begin to strive toward best personal results?
In many cases, we will address the issue of lower leg mechanics. In other words, what can we do about your foot structure and the way you walk to help you find relief that leads to easier and more activity?
We may begin on a temporary basis with an athletic taping. This is a good way to test the extent of a patient’s mechanical problems, and we will ask you to keep a short journal over four to five days to describe how your feet feel during this time.
Once we see the results of the taping—especially if there is a tangible improvement in comfort—we may move ahead with orthotics.
The orthotics we recommend may be pre-fabricated, or a custom-made pair may be specifically prescribed. This decision will largely depend on the severity of the issue and the factors surrounding it.
In other situations, we may recommend other treatments, including changes in footwear, a stretching regimen, and wearing night splints. Sometimes, these options will be recommended in addition to custom orthotics and other treatments.
With an easier path to increased movement, we can then discuss the best ways of increasing activity that will not only benefit you physically, but also keep your interest. It should be something you actually want to do, if we can help it!
Understandably, there may be some cases in which patients are still in so much pain for such a long period of time that even walking is out of the question. Activity will certainly need to be moderated in these circumstances, but we still do not wish to reduce it, if possible. It is always preferable to modify an activity into something you are more capable of doing, rather than simply reducing the overall amount exercise.
Rapid Weight Loss Can Be a Challenge to Feet, Too!
It might seem sensible that losing excess weight at a rapid pace would be the ideal solution, but it is not quite the case!
Believe it or not, patients who have undergone bariatric surgery are referred to our office for foot and ankle pain. Why would that be if they have lost an impressive amount of weight?
In many cases, these patients have gone from not being very active to being very active! Their bodies are not yet conditioned to this change, which can lead to overuse injuries such as plantar fasciitis.
Once again, we don’t want to reduce the overall level of activity here. We want to address the mechanical issues that can be causing pain and, perhaps, modify some of the most problematic activities into alternatives that have less impact on the feet.
An Indianapolis Podiatrist Who’s There Every Step of the Weigh
Weight loss takes time, but the benefits are well worth it. You also won’t have to wait until the end to start feeling the benefits of it on your feet. Every pound does indeed count!
Schedule an appointment with our office next to Fort Harrison Park by calling us at (317) 545-0505. You can also reach us electronically via the contact form on our website.