Whether you’re dealing with bunions, blisters, plantar fasciitis, or bone spurs, foot pain is a common complaint among nurses. If you’re monitoring your steps each day with the latest fitness tracker or app, you probably already know you’re walking miles in your shoes each day. No wonder your feet hurt! Below are some do-it-yourself ways to reduce foot pain and help you keep moving–pain-free.

1. Replace your shoes every three to six months.

In an online interview, Dr. Michael Lowe, past president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, notes that a standard athletic shoe is made to last between 350 and 500 miles–which translates to a new pair of shoes about every three to six months. With the number of hours you’re on your feet every day, your mileage quickly adds up. Once a shoe breaks down, it no longer absorbs shock like it’s supposed to and can misalign your foot and cause pain.

2. Regularly stretch your calves.

Tight calves can exacerbate some types of foot pain. To improve the flexibility, mobility, and position of your foot, follow this simple stretch:

Stand about a foot away from the wall, and place your hands against the wall at shoulder height. Keeping your feet hip-width apart, step back with one leg until your foot is flat on the floor. Bend the front leg until you feel a stretch in your back, calf muscle; the stretch should be tolerable for you. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other leg. Cycle through this stretch one or two more times.

3. Try an Epsom salt foot bath.

Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate–the mineral that gives this home remedy its muscle relaxant quality. To create a foot soak, find a bowl or bucket large enough to submerge both feet (I use a bucket). Place one-half to one cup of Epsom salt into the bucket. Then, fill the bucket about two-thirds full with warm to hot water being mindful of the temperature level that is most comfortable to you. Let the salt dissolve and soak your feet for 20 minutes. Dry off your feet and follow up with a moisturizer if necessary. Routine foot soaks can help reduce the inflammation that leads to aching feet.

4. Roll out your foot pain with a tennis ball.

Place the bottom of your foot on the top of a tennis ball. Roll the tennis ball back-and-forth along the whole length of your arch. For a deeper stretch of your foot’s fascia, apply a decent amount of pressure as you roll the ball. If you encounter a spot on your foot that is extra sore, gently massage that particular area until you feel a release in muscle tension or the pain improves.

One final note: If you try these at-home treatments without benefit, consider talking to your doctor about seeing a physical therapist for a customized evaluation and treatment plan for your foot pain.

Jennifer Lelwica Buttaccio

Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio, OTR/L, is a Chicago-based, freelance lifestyle writer, licensed occupational therapist, and certified Pilates instructor. Her expertise is in health, wellness, fitness, and chronic illness management.

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