Well our house had a great Thanksgiving holiday filled with turkey and way too much stuffing. But instead of putting up Christmas decorations like many others did, we decided to paint our living room. Why I don’t know, but after standing on a 10 foot ladder for hours I realized why foot injury and pain is so common this time of year. I would describe the pain in my feet as very uncomfortable and I found myself walking around the kitchen like a "burnt-toed chicken" as my friends from Georgia would describe it! My toes were numb and my arches were on fire. The only relief I found was making my husband do the ladder work.

This time of year everyone is going to put their feet through a grueling ritual of mall walking, Christmas shopping and house decorating. And come January 1st, the resolution to get back in shape and lose those holiday pounds will disappear quickly due to foot pain and the inability to exercise. This happens because we dramatically increase our activity this time of year without thought to what we are doing to our feet and legs. The pain comes from multiple factors: muscle fatigue in those small muscles of the foot, arch strain from wearing inappropriate shoes while walking for hours, shin splints, increasing walking time from 30 minutes a day to 5 hours in one weekend! And let’s not forget those 4 inch shoes that look great with that holiday outfit, but cause all your toes to go numb 30 minutes after wearing them!

The most common things we see during this season are heel pain or plantar fasciitis, neuromas, shin splints, and Achilles tendonitis. All are due to fatigue and overuse. Pain can occur in the arches and heels as well as along the front of the legs. With neuromas, there is pain in the ball of the foot with a sensation of walking on a rock or a rolled up sock. Usually, the pain described will subside once the walking event is over and you can get off your feet and rest.

Follow these helpful tips for a pain free holiday experience:

  • Wear a good supportive shoe for long walking, standing or increased activity. A really good tennis shoe is just the thing to keep those feet comfortable and reduce foot and leg muscle fatigue.
  • Take frequent breaks during the activity and get off those feet. Give them a rest!
  • Stretching reduces muscle pain after a long day of walking. Good calf and arch stretches will keep you from walking with a limp the next day.
  • Roll, baby, Roll! When you are done with your day, roll your feet across a frozen bottle of water. Not only does this feel great, but it decreases the swelling along the arches and heels.
  • If you plan on hanging Christmas lights, remember safety is the key. Never do this alone! Wear stiff soled boots or tennis shoes to reduce arch strain from ladder rungs and give you a better standing surface.
  • Wear those nice heels to Christmas parties, but don’t stand all night! Wear comfortable shoes on your way to the party, then switch right before making your grand entrance. If you like dancing and want to wear heels, expect pain!

If you find that your foot, ankle or leg pain is not going away with rest, ice and a simple shoe gear change, then there may be something more serious going on that needs to be treated as soon as possible. Have a safe and happy holidays!