Sunday, June 16, 2024
Common Foot Problems FOOT HEALTH

What Causes Tired and Achy Feet?

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Many people are very active on their feet during the day. A lot of people are required to stand for prolonged periods at work, and even walk long distances. It’s no wonder that by the end of the day, many people complain of tired and achy feet. Many different factors can cause your feet to feel tired by the end of the day.

In this article, we’ll break down different conditions that could be causing your feet to feel tired, as well as what you can do about it. 

Let’s dive in…

woman holding tired foot

Footwear Could Be Causing Your Feet to Feel Tired

Think about what shoes you wear every day. Your shoe gear could contribute to your feet feeling tired by the end of the day. 

Many people wear the wrong size shoes. Also, certain jobs require footwear as part of the company uniform. If your job requires you to wear constrictive dress shoes that are not well suited for your feet, you may experience foot pain. 

For instance, someone who has a bunion deformity (bump on the base of the big toe) or hammertoes (bent toes), would not be well-suited to wear a shoe that is narrow or has a shallow toe box. 

Shoes that push against bunions and hammertoes can cause your feet to feel very sore by the end of the day. The pressure in the toe box can make your bunions and your hammer toes feel very achy. Not only that, painful calluses and corns can form to irritation.

High heels can cause more pressure on the ball of your heels. This can cause painful metatarsalgia to occur. Metatarsalgia is a pain in the metatarsal heads which are located in the ball of your feet. Excess pressure in the ball of the foot can cause achiness by the end of the day.

ballet flats

Excessively flat shoes (like ballet flats for instance) can cause your arches to collapse when you are walking. Standing and walking in flat shoes can cause strain of the ligament on the arch of your foot called the plantar fascia. Plantar fasciitis can result and cause pain and achiness in your feet by the end of the day. 

Wearing flat shoes can also strain the posterior tibial tendon, which is the tendon that is responsible for holding up your arch. Flat shoes cause the tendon to stretch out and become weak. When this occurs, you may notice dull achy pain in the ankle and feet. 

Solution

Wearing the appropriate shoes is so important for good foot health. Make sure you go to a shoe store and get your feet measured.

At the end of the day, your legs and feet are the most swollen. You should be fitted for shoes at this time. Make sure you speak to your foot doctor or a shoe representative at the shoe store regarding shoe gear recommendations for your unique foot structure.

If you have bunions and hammertoes, make sure to buy shoes that are wide enough and also have a deep toe box that can allow you to wiggle your toes comfortably.

If you have specific shoes you must wear that are required by your job, there are some things you can do. If you have a bunion, protect the bunion using a bunion gel pad. You can find this on Amazon. This will cushion your bunion when you are wearing shoes. 

If you have issues with your big toe rubbing against your second toe, get a bunion gel pad with a toe spacer. This will keep your two toes from rubbing against each other. 

If you have corns on the tops of your toes from shoes rubbing, I recommend you get Dr. Jill’s digital corn pads. These corn pads can be applied to the tops of your toe to prevent irritation of the skin when wearing shoes. They are adhesive and disposable.

If you have a ball of foot pain, I recommend you wear Powerstep Plus orthotics. These orthotics have a good arch in them with a metatarsal pad incorporated into them that will help offload the ball of your feet. 

If your shoes do not fit an insert, buy metatarsal pads and apply them to your shoe to offload the metatarsal heads.

Here’s a video by ThedaCare Orthopedics demonstrating how to apply the pad correctly. 

If you suffer from achiness due to flat feet, you can start by obtaining arch support. 

I recommend the Powerstep Protech arch support for mild to moderate flat feet. This insert has an appropriate arch with a deep heel cup. The heel cup is padded with poron to aid with shock absorption. 

For severely flatfeet, I recommend the Powerstep Pinnacle Maxx Orthotic. This orthotic has the same features as the Powerstep ProTech orthotic except with an added extrinsic heel lift that helps with overpronation. 

To read a detailed guide on how bad shoes can cause foot pain, check out this supplemental post.

swelling in foot

Swelling Could Be Causing Your Feet to Feel Tired

The veins in your legs and feet are designed to help push blood flow back to the heart. However, in some people, the leg veins are not as effective in pumping blood back to the heart. This results in blood pooling in the legs and the feet. This is called venous insufficiency. Varicose veins are often seen in the legs and feet due to swelling and pressure inside the veins. 

Venous insufficiency can make your feet and legs feel very tired and heavy by the end of the day. Venous insufficiency symptoms get worse if you sit for prolonged periods with your legs hanging down or stand for a long time. 

Solution

Walking can help the calf muscles push the blood in your veins back to your heart. When you are sitting down, keep your legs elevated on two pillows. This can help reduce swelling. Decreasing salt intake and increasing hydration can also improve swelling.

To read more about whether dehydration can cause your feet to swell, check out this article.

Compression stockings are greatly beneficial in reducing swelling in the legs and feet. Compression stockings can be worn during the day and should be removed at night. 

It’s best to go to a medical equipment store to get your legs and ankles measured for stockings so that you can ensure you buy the right size. One pair can cost around $45 or more at a medical equipment store. However, one pair of socks will last for 6 months. Socks should be washed after use. 

If you wish to buy compression stockings online, I would recommend the Jobst 15-20mmHg compression stockings. You can buy it on Amazon. It is comfortable and effective at reducing swelling. 

Start with low-strength compression stockings (15-20mmHg). Although these are considered “low strength” socks, they will still feel very tight. You may need assistance to help you apply the socks. It is very effective in reducing swelling. 

Compression stockings can make your tired and achy legs feel much better by the end of the day when you remove them.

woman holding foot model

Osteoarthritis Could Cause Your Feet to Feel Tired

Osteoarthritis is when there is a breakdown of the cartilage in the joints of the feet. Osteoarthritic changes are often seen as you get older. You may feel stiffness and pain in the feet early in the morning which gets a bit better throughout the day. 

However, osteoarthritis, especially when it is in the midfoot or the great toe joint, can cause your feet to feel tired and achy. 

Solution

Make sure you are wearing stiff-sole shoes to prevent excess motion in your joints. If you have painful arthritis in your great toe joint, speak to your doctor about obtaining custom orthotics. 

Custom orthotics are orthotics that are custom-made for your feet. Modifications can be added to the custom orthotics (such as a first ray extension) to help limit the range of motion in your joint. This can help reduce joint pain when walking. 

You can also use OTC Voltaren gel for painful arthritis in the feet. Voltaren is an NSAID gel that can help alleviate pain associated with arthritis. Make sure that you are not taking any other NSAIDs while using Voltaren gel. 

To read more about arthritis in the foot in detail, check out this post.

top of foot pain

Extensor Tendonitis Could Be Causing Your Feet to Feel Tired

The extensor tendons are present on the top of your foot and help you lift your toes when walking. Extensor Tendonitis can occur due to tight shoes pressing on the top of your feet. Even if your shoelaces are tied too tight, this can cause pain due to pressure on the top of your feet. 

The most common cause of extensor tendonitis is overuse. If you increase your activities significantly or even walk uphill more than usual, you may experience pain and achiness in your feet from extensor tendonitis. You may also notice achy pain and swelling on the top of your feet.  

Solution

RICE therapy can be greatly beneficial in reducing extensor tendonitis pain. Make sure you ice the foot intermittently for 15 minutes at a time. You can wrap your foot with an ACE bandage or use compression stockings to reduce swelling. Resting your foot can help reduce pain and inflammation. 

Occasionally, physical therapy may be needed to reduce pain and improve the strength of the tendon. 

To read more about top of foot pain, check out this supplemental post.

feet walking on floor

Why Do My Feet Feel Tired in the Morning?

If your feet feel tired in the morning, you may have plantar fasciitis. When you are sleeping, your ankles and feet are plantarflexed (feet and toes are flexed down). The Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia becoming contracted. 

When you get up in the morning to stand up, you may feel achiness in the heels and arch in the area of the plantar fascia. This ligament can become strained and cause discomfort. 

Solution

Plantar fascia stretching exercises should be done for 15 minutes three times daily to prevent tightening of the ligament. While stretching the fascia, you should also stretch the Achilles tendon.

Wearing a night splint while you sleep can also prevent your plantar fascia from becoming contracted. The night splint holds your ankle up and prevents your Achilles and plantar fascia from tightening. It takes a bit to get used to wearing a night splint, but it does help relieve heel pain in the morning. 

I recommend the United Ortho Night Splint from Amazon. Do not walk in the boot. It should only be worn at night. 

Do cortisone shots work for plantar fasciitis? Read more about it here.

foot soaks

Natural Remedies for Tired Feet

  • Soak Your Feet in Epsom Salts

Soaking your feet in Epsom salts can help with an achy pain. Make sure to mix Epsom salt with warm water and soak your feet daily for 5-10 minutes. 

  • Is Heat Therapy or Ice Therapy Better for Tired Feet?

If you have acute inflammation in your feet that is causing pain, like plantar fasciitis, ice therapy is beneficial. This is because ice constricts your blood vessels and reduces pain. 

If you have muscle soreness or arthritis pain, heat therapy would be more beneficial because heat can help improve elasticity of connective tissues and also help improve the range of motion in painful joints. 

  • Exercise

Walking leisurely daily can help your legs and feet feel less tired. Walking can help reduce swelling in your legs. This is because the muscles in your legs help pump the blood inside the veins back to the heart. 

  • Massage Your Feet

Massaging your feet manually or by using a foot massager can help immensely to relieve pain associated with tired feet. Massage helps improve blood flow, improves range of motion, and helps to reduce pain. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, many different foot problems can cause your feet to feel tired and achy. Addressing these conditions early can help prevent foot pain from worsening. Always make sure you are wearing the right shoes. Talk to your foot doctor about footwear recommendations. A

Do your feet feel tired and achy by the end of the day? I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below. 

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Vaishnavi Bawa
Dr. Vaishnavi Bawa is a Podiatrist who specializes in treating foot and ankle pathology. LifesLittleSteps mission is to educate the public about foot health in an easy-to-understand manner using evidence-based medicine.
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