Feet hurting? Don't worry. Experiencing some foot pain after a long walk or hike is normal. Since people walk upright, blood is forced downwards into your feet while walking, running, or standing which causes swelling. Walking shoes that don't fit properly can't be helping either. We've heard people ask "Why do my feet hurt after walking?" all too many times, especially after hiking a long distance. In this article, we'll tell you the most common reasons the bottom of your feet might hurt after walking, and how to prevent foot pain in the future.
Let's set the scene: you're feeling fresh in the morning and decided to take a nice little walk since it beautiful day. Soon, a short walk around the block turns into a walk to the park. Instead of turning around once you reach the park, you decided to push the limit and walk further, making your way to deeper trails to immerse yourself in nature. By the time you decide to head back, you've covered miles and miles. Once you collapse on the sofa and take off your shoes and socks, you're wondering, "Why do my feet and legs hurt after walking?"
The most common reasons your feet might be hurting after a day of walking are swelling, cramps, and blisters. And there's nothing unusual about some foot pain after standing on your feet for an extended amount of time.
If you don't walk regularly and one day you decide to go on a 5-mile walk through the woods, odds are you're going to experience some foot pain later that day. If you're asking "why do my feet hurt in the morning," it might mean you're body isn't quite use to the amount of exercise.
But the more you walk, the easier it will feel on your feet.
The most common cause of foot pain after walking is swelling. After a long walk, you might notice that your feet are red and puffy. Nothing to worry about, this is completely natural as blood is forced into your feet while walking.
However, there are ways to alleviate this pain. Try elevating your feet or soaking your feet to reduce inflammation after a long day of walking.
How do foot and leg cramps happen? There are a couple of ways. For one, there's the overuse of a muscle. As mentioned earlier, if your legs and feet are not conditioned to walk long distances, you might pass the threshold for cramps after just a couple of miles. Slowly increasing the distance and intensity of your walking will help prevent leg and foot cramps in the future.
Foot and leg cramps from walking can also be caused by dehydration. When the body does not receive enough water, it causes your muscles to work harder and harder, literally heating up.
In a way, drinking water keeps your legs and feet cool like oil helps regulate an engine's temperature.
The hotter you get, the more likely it is that your muscles will start to tighten up, leading to muscle strain and cramping.
Foot and heel blisters can be very painful. Luckily, they're very preventable. But why do you get foot blisters in the first place?
Blisters are caused by friction, aka heat. As you walk, your feet naturally rub against your shoes, even if it's hardly noticeable. The more friction that occurs in your shoes, the more likely you are to form a blister.
The effects of friction are further exacerbated when moisture comes into play. Sweaty or otherwise wet feet cause the skin to weaken. It's one reason wool socks are a must when hiking - wool does not absorb liquid like cotton.
Blisters are super easy to spot after a hike. Bottom of your feet hurt? Check the bottoms of your feet for blisters on the soles and heels. Blisters also commonly found near the toes, especially if your shoes don't fit properly. Get the lowdown on how to prevent blisters.
Learning why foot and leg pain occurs is interesting, but you're probably more concerned with how to prevent the pain in the first place. Below are a handful of measures you can take to stop your feet from hurting.
A pair of good walking shoes does wonders to prevent foot pain. As mentioned before, your foot rubbing against the interior of your shoe is how blisters are formed. That's why it's super important to walk in shoes that fit properly.
Solid walking shoes will not only help prevent blisters, but also reduce inflammation. The more padding that a walking shoe has in the midsole and insole, the less pressure is applied, cutting down on swelling.
Try opting for - not running shoes or cross-training shoes - but walking shoes. Many people don't realize that not all shoes are intended for walking. Most footwear is catered towards maximizing energy for specific activities like hiking rugged terrains, playing basketball, or running around a track.
Instead, look towards walking shoes like the Walk-Lite Witton (pictured right), which actually works to decrease foot fatigue and maximize energy. Shoes built for walking are designed to roll with the natural motion of your stride rather than provide enough cushioning for high-energy sprints. That's why we partnered with Vibram to create Rollingait technology on the Walk-Lite Series.
You've probably heard this bit of advice since phys ed in elementary school. And even though most of us have scoffed at the advice of our gym teachers' advice, stretching is actually very important.
When you stretch your legs before walking, the muscle is flexed to improve elasticity. Stretching focused on both the muscle itself and where the tendons and muscles connect. Reduce muscle tension to reduce the chance of cramping by stretching before a walk.
The human body consists of over 60% water. It's crucial to stay hydrated during any physical activity. In fact, even if you're not exercising, staying hydrated is directly related to the wellness of both your body and mind.
Without exercise, you should be drinking about 2 liters - or half a gallon - every day. If you're going on a long walk or run, make sure to drink water before you even set foot out of your house. If you're starting to feel dehydrated while exercising, it's already too late.
Staying properly hydrated will reduce the risk of cramps and other injuries while walking. Want to stop saying "why do my feet and legs hurt?" Make sure to drink plenty of water before going on a long walk!
There are a million possible reasons why your feet and legs might be hurting. If it's a regular problem make sure to mention any of your symptoms to your doctor. Foot pain can be a mild symptom of a more serious condition.
However, most of the time, foot pain after walking is normal. Wearing proper footwear, stretching before walking, and staying hydrated are the best ways to prevent common sources of foot pain like inflammation, blisters, and foot cramps. Enjoy your walking and remember that getting into the swing of exercising naturally leads to some mild foot pain. Work through it and soon enough your feet won't hurt after walking one bit.