Columnists Michelle Jang

Something is Amiss with my Foot

Halfway into a recent jog, I began to feel some numbness & discomfort in the ball of my right foot and right toes. I was developing irritation of the nerve running between my toes which causes pain, a condition called Metatarsalgia.   

I tried to adapt my running but then felt tightness in other muscles. I stopped to stretch. I wiggled my toes around but my symptoms persisted. I was a bit “un-nerved”. I was wearing a brand new pair of running shoes in which I had run a couple of times prior without having any problems.

After I got home, I took off my running shoes. To my surprise I had forgotten to put the orthotic in my right shoe. When preparing to run, a friend’s call distracted me and my right shoe orthotic stayed home. I felt silly and realized how important it is to have proper foot alignment.

What I felt when I was running was irritation to the nerve that runs between my 2nd and 3rd toes. The nerve was more exposed to the surface of my running shoes because I didn’t have adequate arch support which my orthotic would have provided in my medial and metatarsal arches of my right foot. If you have an inadequate metatarsal arch, you may also develop calluses under the balls of your feet due to excessive rubbing of these protruding boney joints. In addition, the nerve that runs between our toes becomes more exposed as we age due to the thinning of the pad under our feet, further irritating this nerve.

This experience emphasizes the importance of having proper foot support. I am a proponent of the “80/20 Rule”. I believe that 80% of the time you should have your feet supported especially if you have any problems with your feet, ankles, knees, hips or back. I believe that twenty percent of the time you can go without that support in order to build up your toe and foot muscles, as well as wear those stylish but unsupportive shoes for an evening out. I do recommend that if you are going to wear high heels at night, then during the rest of the day wear supportive footwear. Trust me; your feet will appreciate it. And lastly, don’t get distracted and forget to put an orthotic in your shoe!

If you have foot problems and would like further consultation on mobilizing and strengthening your foot along with guidance on general orthotics and footwear, please don’t hesitate to call us.

Michele S Jang, PT is a physical therapist who likes to look outside the box. She has been a physical therapist for over 22 years and has extensive training in manual therapy or the use of hands to help rehabilitate the body. Michele has been an instructor both in the United States and abroad. Her clinic offers Free Consults on Tuesday afternoons. Michele also has a team of therapists at Spirit Winds who offer an array of expertise on exercise, fall prevention, foot and shoe assessments, body mechanics and proper breathing technique to increase awareness and healing. Her team can be reached at 805 543-5100 or info@spiritwindstherapy.com.