There are 33 joints, 26 bones, 19 muscles, and 107 ligaments in the feet. They are designed to adjust to any landscape, bearing pressure exceeding your body weight.
This value is about three or four times your body weight when running. The natural fat padding in the feet helps cushion the weight and absorb shock.
Nonetheless, it tends to dwindle with age, leaving the bones in the feet less protected, causing sore/tired feet.
What are ‘Tired feet’?
Tired feet are simply sore, tender, or painful feet resulting from muscle fatigue.
Several factors can cause muscle fatigue. Some of them include overburdening of the feet, abnormal foot structure (flatfoot or high-arched foot), significant weight gain, or compensation from an injury.
Your body weight is shifted to your metatarsal bones as they propel you to initiate movement. However, the uneven distribution of your weight throughout your foot makes these bones take the brunt of the force. This causes achy feet.
Tight or weak muscles in the foot and leg also cause a disproportionate distribution of forces and extra stress to the metatarsal bones. This again leads to tired feet. These conditions are a common complaint for many people, and this is not a surprise considering how common its risk factors are.
These symptoms can be perceived in the whole foot. They could also be localized to the arch, heel, or ball of the foot.
- Age – As we age, the pad of fat on the soles of the feet starts to thin out. This flattens the feet and increases the pressure on its bones. Joints also start to wear and tear, and the skin loses its elasticity. It becomes dried and fragile. All these age-related changes cause tired feet.
- Gender – Women are at higher risk of developing tired feet than men. This is due to several factors. Some of them include high-heeled or tight-fitting shoes, feet swelling associated with pregnancy, and the release of hormones that cause ligament relaxation.
- Dehydration and Poor circulation – There are about 250,000 sweat glands in the feet. Consequently, as much as a quarter of a liter of moisture is excreted daily. Dehydration forces the body to seek water from other areas, including joints. This reduction of water in the joints allows toxins to remain, increasing ache and inflammation.
- Improper footwear – It’s better to feel good than to look good. Shoes should provide the necessary shock absorption and should have broad spaces. If this is missing, the metatarsals are squeezed and come under a lot of pressure as you walk, causing achy feet. It’s not all about the looks!
- Overburdening the feet – This is common, especially to those whose jobs require standing for long periods (like cooks and teachers) or walking long distances (such as waiters and mail carriers).
Related Medical Conditions
- Plantar fasciitis: The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects the heel to the toes. Wearing shoes with high arches places a lot of stress on the heels. It can lead to inflammation of the plantar fascia, and sore feet.
- Bunion: A bunion is a protrusion (often painful) at the joint of the big toe. It is caused by a shift in the bones due to stress or inherited foot type. It is possible to get a bunion on the side of the little, called a 'bunionette.'
- Sprain & Strain: Sprains and strains are overstretched or torn tendons, ligaments, or muscles, causing sore feet. The most common location for injuries is the ankle.
- Arthritis: A chronic inflammatory disorder of joints that causes pain and stiffness, and worsens with age.
- Diabetes: The major cause of diabetic foot pain is a nervous disorder called Peripheral Neuropathy. It can lead to numbness in the feet, burning, tingling, or stabbing pain.
- Footbath – Soak your feet in a mixture of a cup of Epsom salts and warm water for about twenty minutes. Adding Epsom salts to a foot bath relieves sore muscles and removes toxins that can cause irritation, inflammation, and sore feet.
- Try stretching exercises – Some stretching exercises help sore feet by promoting flexibility and preventing cramping. For example, flex your toes, point them towards your body and away from it, and curl them for a handful of seconds. Warm-up your feet by extending your legs while sitting down. Move your ankles in clockwise and counterclockwise directions.
- Continue stretching your feet by shifting your weight from your heels to your toes by lifting the front and back of your feet off the ground while standing.
- Get a foot massage – Massaging the feet helps improve blood circulation and relieves soreness. Sit in a comfortable chair, pull apart, and bend your toes. You can use lotion or oil to help lubricate the skin and make it easier to massage the foot.
- Foot rollers (textured cylinders) also help massage the foot.
- Ice your feet – Icing your feet reduces inflammation by restricting blood flow to the area and slowing down cellular metabolism. Fill a plastic bag with ice and apply it on your feet. Dip your feet in a bowl with ice for 5 to 15 minutes, few times a day. Don’t apply ice for more than 20 minutes because it will do more harm than good, slowing the healing process.
- Change your shoes – Your shoes could be the cause of your sore feet. Wearing an incorrect shoe size or a shoe beyond its life span affects the health of your feet. Sneakers begin to deteriorate after 400 or 500 miles and no longer provide the needed support.
- An incorrect shoe size didn’t work out well for Cinderella’s stepsisters. It won’t work out for you either. Consider buying new, fitting shoes to prevent aching feet; and wear shoes suited for the activity you’re engaging in. For example, put on sneakers when working out.
- Take a pain reliever – Over-the-counter pain relievers have anti-inflammatory properties and relieve pain caused by muscle aches and stiffness.
When to See a Doctor
Before trying home remedies for achy feet, you should consider seeing a doctor if you have an underlying medical condition like those stated above.
Some foot injuries can only be treated by your doctor and may even require surgery.
You should visit your doctor if you:
- Have a family history of arthritis and develop tired feet
- Have swollen feet or severe that doesn’t reduce within 48 hours of trying home remedies.
- Have flu-like symptoms in combination with foot pain
- Feel tingling or numbness on the sole of your feet
- Are unable to walk
- Have a broken bone in your foot
- Have an open wound that is not healing
- Have diabetes and experience any abnormalities with your feet
While tired feet are prevalent, they are preventable, and you can treat them efficiently. Remember to wear the right size of shoes for the right activity. Combining a few of the home remedies will relieve you of the pain and soreness in a few days.