Inflammation is the number one cause of the pain described in the above posts. The anatomy of the foot is complex and multiple tendons surround the posterior and lateral aspects of the foot. When one tendon inflames it tends to affect the rest. For instance, an inflamed achilles tendon can affect the abductor hallucis at the bottom of the foot--this is where plantar faciitis occurs.
One thing we teach to our patients who suffer from tendon pain in their feet is proper posture. For those who are able we teach them to stand as if they were trying to touch their heads to the heavens...literally. Imagine that you're neck is stretching upward. This puts the spine in a more natural position, causes the shoulders to align properly, takes stress off of the hips and knees and as a natural result helps relieve strain on the tendons of the feet. This works for anyone of any type of build--male or female. (You will also notice that people pay more respectful attention to you because you really look like someone who knows where they're going!)
Shoes are very important for nurses. The soles should be more of a rocker type; they should be a soft breathable leather; a good arch support, yes, but not if you are flat footed. For flat feet we recommend a European style shoe--can I say Birkies or Born's? But shoes don't need to cost the farm either. Some of us have gone to a place like Wal-Mart, bought a pair of their cool looking Earth Shoes and dyed them white. Important, too is to wear the shoe at the store....you put your old shoes in the shopping cart and go around the store a few times wearing the shoes. See how they feel. If they don't feel right, put them back.
Try not to buy by mail. It's important to put new shoes on and walk in them for a while before buying. As adult people who are on our feet alot, our feet change in structure on the average of every six to twelve months--the foot wear you are wearing today may not fit at all a year from now.
Foot exercises? Use a rolling pin on the floor to roll your feet over. Do this while watching tv or reading or whatever. We recommend about 15 minutes each foot. Use your toes to manipulate the handles of the pin--turn it, spin it--stretching of the toes naturally relaxes the abductor brevis and hallucis muscles on the bottom of the foot. Try it.
Massage is terrific. If you have a significant other, enlist that person to massage your feet--you can massage their feet too at the same time! Or treat yourself to massage therapy by a professional. This will greatly reduce tension and pain in the feet.
Assess the condition of your feet by checking for circulatory problems which can cause pain. Check the bottoms of your feet for color...if the soles are dusky you may be suffering more from a peripheral vascular problem; use your finger to palpate the soles of your feet--if you feel lumps get to your physician--we recently had a patient who complained of "arch pain" and was being treated by a podiatrist with an arch support orthotic. A lump was palpated by one of our nurses and she referred him to his MD. As it turns out the lump was malignant!
As I am certain you all know, the feet are the repositories of many, if not all, human ills. The foot can tell us a great deal about our physical and emotional health. May I say, that if you are suffering from foot pain, and while you are treating that pain, you check out the rest of yourself, too....for instance, if you think the rest of your body is in pretty good shape, how about your emotional health? The more we put onto our shoulders the greater will be the discomfort in our feet.
Just some ideas. Lois Jean