Self-Care Tips to Soothe Aching Feet at Home

A long day at work or play can leave you with sore feet, but you can take steps to prevent foot pain and soothe your aching feet.

This article explains some common causes of sore feet. It also provides tips and strategies for relieving pain.

foot pain treatment

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Common Causes of Aching Feet

Your sore feet could stem from a few known causes and risk factors:

  • Foot structure: Flat feet, high arches, or arthritis (painful joints that don't move easily)
  • Injury: Strains, sprains, and other kinds of damage
  • Obesity: Strain on ligaments, muscles, and joints from being overweight
  • Overuse: Too much walking or standing, especially on hard surfaces
  • Pregnancy: Hormonal changes that make ligaments loose and stretchy
  • Poorly fitting shoes: Footwear that is too loose, too tight, or too narrow for your feet

8 Ways to Soothe Foot Pain

Besides kicking back and giving your feet a rest, here are some remedies that can help ease the ache of tired feet:

Use Moist Heat

One of the best remedies for relaxing sore muscles is a foot bath. Soak your feet in a basin of warm water or a foot spa for five to 10 minutes.

Adding Epsom salts to the water can be extra relaxing. You can find Epsom salts in the first aid or foot care section of drug stores and big box retailers. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons into a gallon of warm water. If your feet are swollen, hot, or tired, use cool water instead of warm. Afterward, elevate your feet for a half hour or more.

Stretch Your Feet

Stressed muscles may contract or spasm. To relieve this tightness, stretch your feet. A good time to stretch is after a warm soak, when your muscles are relaxed.

Sit in a comfortable position. Gently roll your ankles and toes in circles. You can use your hands or an exercise band to stretch tight places on your feet and ankles.

To include your calf muscles, try a runner's stretch. Stand several feet away from a wall or counter. Lean forward, placing your hands against the wall. You should feel a good stretch along the back sides of your legs.

Do each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds for the best results.

Give Your Feet a Workout

Exercises will help strengthen your ankles, feet, and toes. Try these moves:

  • Pick up objects with your toes and move them from one pile to another.
  • Rise up on your toes, lifting your heels off the ground.
  • Do ankle pumps, moving your foot up and down.
  • Roll the bottom of your foot on a frozen water bottle, a tennis ball, or a golf ball.

Try Touch Therapy

Apply oil or lotion to the soles of your feet. Then massage them, pressing gently in any sore areas. Focus on the plantar fascia, the cord-like band that runs along the length of the arch from the ball of your foot to the heel.

To find the plantar fascia, flex your toes upward. You should be able to feel it if you follow the underside of your big toe down through the arch. Keeping your plantar fascia relaxed is a good idea. It acts as a shock absorber when your feet hit the ground. In fact, if your heels are sore, then tight or injured plantar fascia may be the cause.

You might also try a foot roller or foot spa with a massage feature.

Wear Arch Supports

Over-the-counter arch supports for your shoes may bring you some relief. Arch supports will help decrease the shock that your feet experience with every step. If your heel and the ball of the foot are sore, full-length arch supports can cushion them.

For a better fit, visit a shop that can tailor supports to your specific needs. You may want to see a podiatrist, a healthcare provider who specializes in foot conditions, to discuss custom-made orthotics. These inserts are made to treat specific foot problems such as plantar fasciitis and flat feet.

Check Your Shoes

To prevent foot pain, your shoes need to be the right size and shape. The next time you're in a shoe store, take a moment to have your feet measured. Your footwear needs may have changed. You may need to switch the style or size of your shoes if:

  • A bunion, hammertoe, or other condition has changed your foot shape
  • A neuroma has formed around a nerve, causing you pain
  • You've started a new type of exercise
  • Your foot size has changed as you've grown older
  • Sandals with too little support are causing foot fatigue
  • You're on your feet more than you used to be

Keep in mind that a loose shoe can also cause foot soreness. When your feet slide around in your shoes, blisters or black toenails can develop. You may also need new shoes if worn-out soles are changing how your feet hit the ground.

One other word of advice: Make sure your shoes are wide enough and deep enough in the toe box.

Trim Calluses and Corns

The hard, dry skin of calluses and corns can put pressure on the bottom of your foot. Your feet may crack, bleed, or become infected.

First, soak your feet in warm water for a few minutes. Dry them and use a pumice stone or emery board on the hard spots. Apply moisturizing lotion or cream. Then put on socks to seal in the added hydration.

Consider Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice. There is some evidence that acupuncture helps with foot pain, though more research is needed to confirm the benefits.

When to Get Medical Help

Having sore feet from time to time is a common experience for people of all ages. If your foot pain is getting worse or happening more often, or if it doesn't get better when you try simple remedies, it may be time to see a podiatrist.

Certain medical conditions can cause foot pain or make it worse. Your primary care physician can evaluate and treat these conditions:

Summary

Foot soreness can be caused by your shoes, your foot's structure, a health condition, or your daily activities.

You may be able to ease foot pain with warm foot soaks, massage, stretches, or acupuncture. If your shoes are part of the problem, you may want to work with a professional to make sure the style, size, and support are right for you.

If you think another health issue is causing foot pain, it may be time to see your doctor.

A Word From Verywell

Sore feet can keep you from enjoying healthy exercise and physical activity. If over-the-counter remedies don't seem to be working, it's a good idea to see a podiatrist or another health care provider sooner rather than later. Healthy feet can keep you on the path to good overall physical and mental wellbeing.

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