These Bad Workout Habits Can Cause Foot Pain, but We Have 3 Stretches That'll Help

Skipping the leg-stretching portion of your workout or exercising with worn-down sneakers can seem like no big deal, but your feet beg to differ. Without pre- and post-workout stretches, your calves tighten up — and poor shoe cushioning and support can cause tightness and inflammation in your joints from increased force and instability, said Karena Wu, DPT, CSCS, and the owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy. Both of these factors cause foot pain — and more.

"Sore feet can lead to more serious injuries if standing and moving on the sore feet create compensations. If you experience soreness or pain, the body will try to reduce forces through the painful area, which can lead to muscle imbalances," Wu said.

If you're thinking, "Well, that escalated quickly," take a deep breath. With permission from your doctor, it's not too late to start reversing the bad habits you've formed. Wu said mobility in the foot is really important when helping to relieve foot pain. "The lower leg does a lot of work and carries the entire body when standing. Keeping the soft tissues and joints moving to reduce stresses in the area allows for proper circulation and muscle function [needed] to participate in many activities of daily living," she said.

While we can't send every one of you a new pair of kicks (sorry, I wish!), we can start you off with some stretches courtesy of Wu for during your workouts or when pain strikes.

Wall Calf Stretch
POPSUGAR Photography

Wall Calf Stretch

  • Place your hands on a wall in front of you, step one foot back, and keep that heel down on the ground. Your back knee should be straight.
  • Lean your weight forward onto your bent front knee, and feel the stretch in your back leg's calf.
  • Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds per leg.
Wall Calf Stretch With Bent Knees
POPSUGAR Photography | Ericka McConnell

Wall Calf Stretch With Bent Knees

  • Take the same position as above with both hands on the wall, one foot behind the other.
  • Instead of lunging forward, bend both knees to drop your weight toward the floor.
  • Keep your back heel on the floor, and feel the stretch deeper in the lower part of your Achilles tendon.
  • Hold stretches for at least 30 seconds per leg.
Hamstring Stretches
POPSUGAR Photography | Kat Borchart

Hamstring Stretches

  • Lying on your back, bring one knee in toward your chest.
  • Straighten your top knee as much as you can without pain so your foot is pointing up toward the ceiling. Feel the stretch on the back of your thigh. Your thigh should be perpendicular to your torso. If your knee cannot straighten, lower your thigh toward the floor.
  • Your bottom leg should be extended straight out on the floor.
  • Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds (per leg!) statically — no bouncing.

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