Obesity can spell big trouble for the feet, and dropping even a moderate amount of weight will help alleviate pain and other problems associated with flat arches, bunions and other foot woes. The problem is, your foot pain makes it hard to exercise; the lack of exercise keeps you overweight and your foot problems worsen. Exercise is a major cornerstone of any successful weight loss strategy and if you are not partaking in regular physical activity, diet and other changes to your lifestyle will only produce limited results. But, not all hope is lost; there are lots of different exercises that do not put as much pressure on the feet and provided you commit to doing them regularly, your foot problems will no longer be a barrier to achieving a healthy weight, which is a key component to healthy feet.
Cycling is a great exercise but riding a regular bicycle outdoors may put excess pressure on your feet that causes pain and discomfort. A recumbent bicycle is a good option for people with foot problems; instead of the up-and-down movement of a standard bicycles, recumbent bikes move in an out-and-down motion which reduces the impact on the feet. A stationary bike is also a good choice. If you like the idea of a more intense workout but want to minimize pressure on the feet, try cycling at a greater intensity but with lower resistance—this combination is better on the feet than the high-intensity, high-resistance combination.
Proper form will also minimize pain. Your feet should fit snugly in the pedals. When you are at the lowest point of the rotation, knees should be bent slightly and your toes should be level—not pointing up or flexing down.
Yoga may be another good exercise if you suffer from foot pain. Research has shown that people who practice yoga lost more weight than people that did not. One benefit may not be anything related to increased calorie-burning but rather the tendency to become more aware of your body and reduced stress levels, both of which may encourage healthier habits that support weight loss. Other studies suggest it may directly impact endurance—which would allow you to exercise longer and harder—and the amount of oxygen that gets delivered to the muscles, which would also encourage weight loss in the form of greater exercise capacity. Many poses put little to no pressure on the feet and there are always modifications to compensate for health conditions. If you take a yoga class, make sure to tell the instructor about your foot issues so she knows when to suggest alternate poses.
Exercises in the pool are great for people with problems such as foot pain and arthritis because it relieves pressure on the joints and fully supports your weight. While you may associate pool exercises with little old ladies doing water aerobics, they are great if foot pain makes it difficult for you to exercise. You may not think you are getting much of a workout, but water provides 12 times more resistance as air. If you are not quite in good enough shape to swim some laps, walking in the water is a great alternative. You can walk at a normal pace the whole time or throw in some interval training by alternating between faster and slower movement—this provides a metabolism boost that lasts long after your exercise session ends. The higher you lift your knees, the better the workout. Wearing a flotation device can help relieve some pressure on your feet.
Preparing Your Feet
To minimize discomfort associated with exercise, it is good to prepare your feet and legs for physical activity with some good stretching exercises. Stretch each of your toes individually by pressing down on them with your thumbs for at least 10 to 15 seconds and do this three to five times. Do a set of 5 to 10 ankle circles in each direction. Alternate between flexing your foot and pointing it during the rotations. To stretch your heels, put them right up against the wall and lift your toes. You also want to make sure you are wearing the proper shoes for the activities you will be partaking in.
Of course, if pain persists, be sure to visit with your Houston podiatrist to ensure that you can continue in your chosen activity without causing more harm.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who specializes in health and wellness content. She has written for a number of sites, including WeightLossTriumph.com, which provides a wealth of information on a variety of weight- related topics, such as a weight watchers program review. Kelli is particularly passionate about sharing information on how to combat obesity and develop a healthier lifestyle. She is an avid traveler and her freelance writing career allows her to work anywhere she can get an internet connection; she is currently traveling Southeast Asia.