How to Soothe Tired Feet

Three Parts:Managing Tired Feet at HomeReceiving Conservative TreatmentAddressing Complications

Tired feet are a common complaint for most people, especially those who have to stand for long periods of time (such as cashiers and traffic cops) or walk long distances (such as restaurant servers and postal workers). Another common cause of sore and tired feet is wearing inappropriate shoes, such as women's high heels and other fashionable but impractical offerings. As such, learning how to soothe your tired feet, either at home or via treatments from trained professionals, is invaluable.

Part 1
Managing Tired Feet at Home

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    Elevate your feet while resting. Part of the reason feet get sore is due to swelling, so raising your feet while sitting down will help to negate gravity and allow blood and lymph fluid to exit the lower legs and return into circulation.[1] Taking your socks/nylons off will also help to cool your feet down, thus soothing them even further.
    • Raising your feet to at least the level of your heart is good for promoting circulation.
    • Use pillows to elevate your feet while laying on the sofa, but don't hamper blood flow by crossing your ankles.
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    Change your shoes. Ill-fitting, poorly ventilated and/or excessively heavy shoes also contribute to tired and sore feet. As such, wear stable, lightweight footwear that suits your job, sport, or activity.[2] Aim for no more than a 1/2 inch heel. High heels crowd the toes and promote foot pathology such as bunions. If you're a serious runner, replace your shoes every 350 – 500 miles or three months, whichever comes first.
    • Remember to always tie your shoes tightly, because loose shoes or flip-flops put more strain on your foot and lower leg muscles.
    • Get fitted for your shoes by a shoe salesperson late in the day, because that's when your feet are at their largest, usually due to swelling and slight compression of your arches.[3]
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    Wear shoe orthotics. If you have flat feet and spend lots of time standing or walking then consider a pair of orthotics. Orthotics are customized shoe inserts that support the arch of your foot and promote better biomechanics while standing, walking, and running.[4] Orthotics will also help reduce the risk of problems developing in other joints such as the ankle, knee, and hips.[5]
    • Health professionals that make custom orthotics include podiatrists and some osteopaths and chiropractors.
    • Some health insurance plans cover the cost of customized orthotics, but if yours doesn't, then consider a pair of off-the-shelf orthopedic shoe insoles — they're considerably less expensive and may provide quick relief.
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    Lose some weight, especially if you're obese. Weight loss helps prevent a variety of foot problems as there's less pressure put on the bones and muscles of the feet and lower legs. For most women, consuming less than 2,000 calories daily will lead to some weight loss every week even if you're only a light exerciser. Most men will lose weight at under 2,200 calories daily.[6]
    • Switch to lean meats and fish, whole grains, fresh produce and lots of water for the best weight loss results.
    • Many overweight people have flat feet and tend to over-pronate their ankles, so choosing shoes with excellent arch support is crucial.
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    Take over-the-counter NSAIDs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin can be short-term solutions to help you deal with pain or inflammation in your feet. Keep in mind that these medications can be hard on your stomach, kidneys and liver, so it's best not to use them for more than 2 weeks at a stretch.
    • Dosage for adults is usually 200-400 mg, by mouth, every four to six hours.[7]
    • Alternatively, you can try over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to soothe your feet, but never take them concurrently with NSAIDs.
    • Be careful not to take any medications on an empty stomach, as they can irritate the lining of your stomach and increase the risk of ulcers.
    • Don't take NSAIDs if you have ulcers, heart or kidney disease
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    Take an Epsom salt bath. Soaking your feet in a warm Epsom salt bath can significantly reduce pain and swelling, especially if the pain is caused by muscle tension.[8] The magnesium in the salt helps the muscles relax. Don't make the water too hot (to prevent scalding) and don't soak in the bath for much more than 30 minutes because the salty water will pull fluid from your body and start to dehydrate you.
    • If swelling is a particular problem in your feet, then follow the warm salt bath with an ice bath until your feet feel numb (about 15 minutes or so).
    • Always remember to dry your feet thoroughly after a foot bath so as to prevent slip and falls.
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    Use a small wooden roller. Rolling your tired feet over a wooden roller (found at many drug stores) is a good way to massage the tension out of your feet and potentially relieve mild-to-moderate discomfort.[9] For some reason, natural wood seems to work better at soothing muscles than plastic, glass, or metal. Look for grooved or ribbed varieties.
    • Place the wooden roller on the ground, perpendicular to your feet, and firmly roll them back and forth slowly for at least five to 10 minutes each.
    • Repeat as many times as necessary, although your feet might be a little sore after the first time your use a roller.

Part 2
Receiving Conservative Treatment

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    Get a foot massage. Get a massage therapist to give you a foot and calf massage. Massage reduces muscle tension and inflammation, helps break down scar tissue and promotes better blood flow.[10] Have the therapist start rubbing from the toes and work towards the calf so the venous blood and lymph are helped back up towards the heart.
    • The therapist may also perform trigger point therapy on the soles of your feet, which is sustained pressure to the most sore spots within your arches.
    • Ask the therapist to use peppermint oil or cream on your feet because it will make them tingle and feel invigorating.
    • Always drink lots of water immediately following a massage in order to flush out inflammatory by-products, lactic acid, and toxins from your body. Failure to do so might cause a headache or mild nausea.
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    Try acupuncture. Acupuncture involves sticking very thin needles into specific energy points within the skin in efforts to reduce pain and inflammation.[11] Acupuncture for foot pain can be effective, especially if it's done when the symptoms first occur. Based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture works by releasing a variety of substances including endorphins and serotonin, which act to reduce pain.
    • It's also claimed that acupuncture stimulates the flow of energy, referred to as chi.
    • Acupuncture is practiced by a variety of health professionals including some physicians, chiropractors, naturopaths, physical therapists, and massage therapists.
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    Consider reflexology. Some people confuse reflexology with massage, but although both use touch and pressures points, the approaches are very different. Reflexology is the application of appropriate pressure to specific points and areas on the feet in efforts to stimulate specific organs and improve health in general.[12]
    • Massage therapists work "from the outside in" — manipulating specific muscle groups or fascia to release tension; reflexology practitioners work "from the inside out" — stimulating the nervous system to release tension in the feet and elsewhere.
    • Reflexology is similar to acupuncture and acupressure in that it works with the body's vital energy through the stimulation of points on the feet, as well as points in the hands and ears.

Part 3
Addressing Complications

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    See a podiatrist. If your foot pain is chronic or particularly severe, then seeing a podiatrist is a good idea. Podiatrists are foot specialists who can treat a variety of conditions, sometimes with simple surgical techniques, but more often with conservative approaches such as custom orthotics, orthopedic shoes, braces or taping.[13]
    • A podiatrist can tell you if you're suffering from common foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, athlete's foot (fungal infection), flat feet, turf toe, bunions, or gout — which all cause foot pain to varying degrees.
    • A podiatrist is a great source of information on what types of shoes are best for your feet and gait (the way that you walk).
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    See a medical specialist. Medical specialists may be needed to rule out the most serious causes of chronic foot problems, such as diabetes, infection, venous insufficiency, bone fracture, rheumatoid arthritis or cancer.[14] These conditions are obviously not common causes of tired and tender feet, but if home care and conservative therapies are not effective for soothing your feet, then more serious problems need to be considered.
    • X-rays, bone scans, MRI, and CT scans are modalities that specialists may use to help diagnose your upper back pain.
    • Your doctor may also send you for a blood test to rule out diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or a chronic infection.
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    Get a corticosteroid injection. An injection of steroid medication near or into the inflamed tendons or muscles of your foot can quickly reduce inflammation and pain, but this approach is usually reserved for athletes who need quick and temporary relief that enables them to keep performing.[15] The most common preparations used are prednisolone, dexamethasone, and triamcinolone.
    • Potential complications of corticosteroid injections include infection, bleeding, tendon weakening, local muscle atrophy, and nerve irritation/damage.
    • If corticosteroid injections fail to provide adequate resolution, then surgery should be considered as a last resort, depending on the diagnosis of your foot condition.


  • To maintain proper posture when standing, stand with your weight equally distributed over both feet and avoid locking your knees. Tighten your stomach and buttock muscles to keep your back straight. Wear cushioned supportive shoes and alleviate muscle fatigue by periodically resting one foot on a small footstool.
  • Don’t wear flip-flops on a long-distance walk or for any sports. They don’t give your feet enough shock absorption, arch support or protection.
  • Quit smoking because it impairs blood flow, resulting in oxygen and nutrient deprivation to muscles and other tissues.

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Categories: Feet Knees and Legs