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Foot and Ankle Problems

ankle and leg painFoot and ankle problems are all too common, and they pack a serious punch when it comes to pain and your ability to live your best life. Wondering what a chiropractor can do to help? Curious about how you can lend a hand to your own healing process? Let’s break it down.

Your feet comprise a hefty 26 bones each, held together by ligaments and set in motion by tendons that link muscles to other bones across the foot, ankle, and leg. Nerves stemming from the lower back (L4, L5, and S1 nerve roots) dictate sensation and movement. These nerves travel through the sciatic trunk, morph into the tibial and common peroneal nerves, and eventually branch into local motor and sensory nerves. All of this is fueled by a robust blood supply.

When you stand, walk, run, or leap, your feet adapt to control motion and absorb the shock. Walking demands a shift to accommodate your body weight, while running or jumping necessitates handling anywhere from 2.5 to 4.6 times your body weight. When your feet and ankles are overwhelmed, the result can be anything from an evening of sore feet to more serious issues like plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and even knee, hip, or back pain. The foot’s function (or malfunction) ripples upwards through the “kinetic chain.”

This means that if your feet hit the ground with finesse, your knees, hips, and spine will experience a smoother “ride.” In contrast, subpar foot mechanics or overwhelmed feet and ankles mean less-than-optimal adaptations to the forces of standing, walking, running, and other activities – resulting in jarring shockwaves, pain, and injuries.

This is where Doctors of Chiropractic (D.C.) enter the picture. We’re versed in biomechanics and taking care of your frame and nervous system. While we won’t tackle surgical cases, if your issue involves nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments, or joints, a chiropractic assessment is a smart move. Dr. Dale White, a sports chiropractor, recounts the story of Clint Renfro, an NCAA Division I 400-meter hurdler. After seeking multiple opinions, Clint’s persistent foot woes were resolved by a chiropractic approach. He had two fixated foot bones adjusted, which led to pain relief and remarkable athletic performances afterwards. Such cases aren’t rare; many individuals find respite from foot pain and their limitations through chiropractic evaluation and management.

Specialty-trained doctors of chiropractic don’t just focus on your spine and hips. Many of us assess and adjust the feet and related joints if/as needed, suggesting suitable footwear or custom orthotics when appropriate. We’re here to care for you and empower you to care for yourself. Here are some practical tips to tend to your feet:

Choose shoes wisely. Prioritize roomy toe boxes and consider lower heels. High heels shorten the Achilles tendon, stress the forefoot’s bones and soft tissues, and amplify pressure on your lower back joints and discs.

Give your shoes a break. If you’re an active walker, runner, or athlete, rotate your shoes to maintain their shock-absorbing abilities. If you’re a runner or frequent walker, retire your shoes every six months or after 300-500 miles, or sooner if discomfort arises. Ladies, let your feet recover if high heels are a regular choice.

Mix up your surfaces. Concrete floors take a toll on your body. If you jog or walk, explore options like dirt, grass, or a rubberized track. Hard surfaces like roads, or blacktop/concrete basketball courts, can wear you down rapidly. You might get away with it for a while, but Father Time spares few of us.

Experiment with ice. Inflammation and pain often go hand-in-hand. Applying ice for 5-10 minutes can cool inflammation down. Don’t overdo it – stop when numbness sets in, and err on the side of less, not more.

Embrace heat or contrast. Heat isn’t ideal for acute or chronic inflammation, but it can boost local circulation. If icing doesn’t cut it, try a warm foot bath or contrast therapy – 5 minutes of ice, 10 minutes of heat, then another 5 minutes of ice. Remember, these methods offer temporary relief, not fixes for nerve or structural problems.

Take a load off. Breaks from standing can alleviate foot pressure. Shedding extra pounds will also do wonders for your feet, heart, back, and perhaps even your self-image. Work with your chiropractic doctor for a safe and effective exercise plan.

For numbness or “pins and needles,” seek a chiropractic evaluation. It could be something as simple as your shoe lacing or as serious as diabetes, pinched nerves, or spinal disc issues.

Remember, I’m here to help you – not just as a chiropractor but as a partner in your journey toward better health. Let’s tackle these problems together and connect you to YOUR true potential.


Foot and Ankle Problems Williamsburg, James City County VA | (757) 229-4161