Can Weight Gain Cause Foot Pain?
By now, most people are aware of the impact that carrying too much body weight can have on your health. Along with impacting your energy levels, self-confidence, mood, heart health, and more, if you are suffering from foot pain, it may be due to being overweight or obese. In addition to foot pain, weight gain can also cause pain in your legs, knees, and back. This is because carrying excess weight will put a lot of extra pressure on your feet and heels, which can cause the arches of your feet to collapse.
There have been several studies linking foot and ankle problems to an individual’s weight and BMI. Those with a higher BMI tend to experience more painful problems with their ankles and feet. It’s a common misconception that only people who are very heavily overweight will experience foot problems as a result. In fact, one study found that gaining just 5-10 pounds of additional weight could trigger foot and ankle problems.
While problems will vary between individuals, the foot and ankle pain caused by being overweight will typically occur in the weight-bearing areas of the feet along with the ligaments and tendons since the functioning of the feet is changed by the additional weight. For example, carrying extra body weight will put additional pressure on the bottom of the foot, which can lead to a shortened gait, flatter feet, and feet that angle out more when you are walking.
Can You Experience Foot Pain Due to Weight Gain?
Gaining weight will put additional pressure on your feet, which can lead to a wide range of common foot problems. Some of the most common foot problems that are often associated with weight gain include arthritis, pain in the balls of the feet, tibial tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and an even higher risk of sprains and fractures in the feet and ankles.
Can Weight Gain Cause Foot Pain?
Studies have found that being just 5-10 pounds overweight can begin to affect your feet. Carrying any amount of extra weight on your body will put additional pressure and strain on your feet. Even more troubling is that since weight gain can lead to more pressure and pain in your feet, this can become a vicious cycle that leads to even further weight gain since physical exercise can be difficult and painful for those who are dealing with foot and ankle conditions. In many cases, addressing the foot pain first is recommended by doctors and podiatrists, in order to help the patient lose weight by exercising in a way that is enjoyable and pain-free.
An expert can evaluate how you walk and figure out where you are putting extra pressure and force on your feet, which is leading to pain. When you’re overweight or obese, there is a lot more pressure and tension on your plantar fascia, so it may be necessary for you to have advanced heel and foot pain treatments in order to relieve the pain and make it easier for you to exercise for weight loss. Some common treatment plans include:
- Custom foot orthotics
- Supportive shoes
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Foot stretches and strengthening exercises
How Your Weight Impacts Your Feet
Many people don’t realise just how much being overweight can impact their feet, even if they are only carrying a few extra pounds. Additional weight puts a lot of extra pressure on your feet, particularly on the weight-bearing joints. This extra pressure can lead to a range of painful conditions in your feet and ankles, including:
Feet are supposed to be arched at the inner midpoint, providing balance and reflexive spring. However, being overweight weakens the ligaments and tendons in your feet and ankles, causing the arches to collapse over time. This causes flat feet, which can be the case of significant pain when walking and standing. Although wearing custom orthotics can help, weight loss is the best way to see improvements.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that is caused by inflammation of the ligaments running from the heel bone to the metatarsal bones in the arch of the foot. The patient may experience a lot of heel pain and stiffness when these ligaments are inflamed. You may have plantar fasciitis if you experience a sharp pain in your heel when getting out of bed in the morning, when getting up out of a seated position, or when climbing stairs. Due to the additional pressure that being overweight puts on these ligaments, plantar fasciitis is a common painful foot problem that is often caused by weight gain.
Bone spurs are an outgrowth from bones, which the body creates in order to reduce the friction caused by two bones grinding against one another. They are more common in people who are overweight or obese due to the additional pressure and strain that this puts on their joints. And, carrying extra weight can make bone spurs in the feet worse, increasing the painful and uncomfortable symptoms.
This condition is quite similar to plantar fasciitis and is often caused by inflammation and pain in the tendons of the feet and ankles, which can be caused by the extra pressure of being overweight. In people who are overweight or obese, it is often the Achilles tendon that is affected, due to the flattening of the feet that puts additional strain on the tendon.
Can Being Overweight Cause Walking Shin Pain?
If you are experiencing discomfort in the front area of your lower legs when you walk, you may be dealing with a range of causes including compartment syndrome, a stress fracture, or shin splints.
This condition is caused by cumulative stress and is often experienced by dancers, runners, and people in the military. It occurs when the tendons, bone tissue, and muscles in the shins are overworked. Although it is not strictly caused by being overweight, carrying additional weight can certainly increase your risk of shin splints due to the additional pressure that it causes.
This is a muscle and nerve condition that is commonly caused by exercise. It is often seen in skiers, basketball players, and runners. Symptoms include burning sensations in the shins, weakness, aching, cramping, tightness, tingling, and numbness. It can become a surgical emergency if the condition becomes acute.
Tiny cracks in your shin bone known as a stress fracture could lead to pain in your lower leg when walking. Stress fractures are often caused by overuse and are typically common in sports that require repetitive action.
Weight Loss Exercises With Low Impact on Feet
If you are experiencing foot pain and are overweight, exercising as a way to lose weight can often be difficult since many recommended exercises involve walking or running. If exercising is very painful for you, losing weight – and relieving the pressure on your feet – can be understandably more difficult.
The key to continuing weight loss with physical activity is finding exercises that do not have a lot of impact on your feet and ankles. In addition to this, it’s important to pay a lot of attention to your diet, as more often than not improving your diet alone can cause many people to experience weight loss, which can help to take some of the pressure off your feet and reduce the pain you experience, making it easier for you to start exercising to improve your future weight loss even further. Some of the best forms of exercise that you can do if you’re experiencing weight gain-related foot pain include:
- Swimming – this activity is low-impact in general and is an ideal form of exercise for anybody who suffers from painful joints due to pressure.
- Cycling – with your body moving in a circular motion, cycling takes a lot of pressure off your feet and ankles compared to other exercises such as running, while still increasing your heart rate and getting your body moving.
- Yoga – Yoga is a very low-impact activity that you can tailor to your own limitations. There are several sitting yoga poses that you can try that will take the pressure off your feet while encouraging you to move and stretch your body.
- Weight lifting: Sitting weight lifting exercises can be an ideal option for weight loss and muscle building, as remaining seated allows you to reduce the pressure on your feet.
Best Ways to Relieve Foot Pain Caused By Weight
There are several things that you can do to relieve the foot pain caused by weight gain, making it easier for you to exercise and get on with life without discomfort.
- Supportive shoes – First and foremost, whether you’re exercising, working, or living your life you need to be in a pair of well-fitting, supportive shoes. Badly-fitting or worn-out shoes will only put additional pressure on your feet and ankles and worsen the pain.
- Massage – Regular professional or self-massage of your feet can help to improve blood flow to the feet, reduce tension and relieve pain.
- Weight loss – A weight loss program focused on healthy eating and low-impact exercises is the best way to reduce and continue to prevent foot pain caused by carrying extra weight.
Gaining just a few extra pounds can put a lot more pressure on your feet than you might realise, leading to a range of painful conditions.