Foot strain and pain

What causes it?
Lots of standing, walking or running on hard surfaces in shoes with inadequate cushioning or in hard studded boots.

What are the symptoms?
Ache under the arch of the foot in front of the heel (also see heel pain) or pain under the ball of the foot (known as metatarsalgia).

How do you treat these conditions?
Pain under the arch of the foot may be helped by arch support but is best treated by foot exercises.

Metatarsalgia is treated by footwear correction, support under the middle of the ball of the foot (metatarsal support) and foot exercises.

What is metatarsal support?
Various types of support are available from the pharmacy or some sport shops. However it may be simpler and more effective to cut out an oval from a sheet of orthopaedic sticky-backed foam or felt and stick this under the middle of the ball of your foot. You can than find out the smallest effective amount of padding you need and the best position for it. This method achieves the most specific treatment for your foot.

What sort of foot exercises?
These are exercises aimed at strengthening the small muscles of the foot.

They are best performed while sitting down with the foot flat on the floor. Repeatedly curl your toes and then straighten them and squeeze them firmly down flat on the floor. Do this for several minutes. Alternatively roll a pencil or scrunch a sheet of paper with your toes. You can also turn your foot on its outer border and curl your toes as far as possible towards your heel. Repeat these exercises every day.

If you problem does not respond to these measures or you have any doubt about the diagnosis see a physiotherapist or your doctor.

Further information

This article published on

Next review date 11/1/2013


Sports injuries
First aid
Diet and exercise

Areaof the body

Legs, knees, ankles, feet

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