What To Do When You’ve Got Pain In Your Lower Leg, Foot, Or Toes


Plantar fasciitis, heel pain, achilles pain, the always fun “top of the foot” pain, side of the shin pain – there are so many ways your feet and toes can become injured.

Does that mean that feet and toes are fragile and prone to injury?

Absolutely not.

The way most people go about dealing with injuries and pain in the feet is all wrong.

Those folks don’t take action until they feel a gnawing ache in their foot, or a sharp pain in their heel, or a deep throb in the top of their foot.

Then, they bring an external support in – like shoe insoles, k-tape, or ibuprofen – to try and solve the problem.

But they will not work in any long-term, lasting capacity. Why?

Here are two things you must focus on if you want to start solving your foot issues, and all of them work on your internal stuff – no braces or insoles here.

Improve the quality of your soft tissue.

If your soft tissue loses its pliability, you’re going to have a hard time moving it. Your skin, fascia, muscles, ligaments, and tendons all need to be capable of moving, stretching, and flexing. If your soft tissue can’t move well, your bones will have a hard time moving they way they are meant to.

The reverse is true too. If your joints can’t move the way they are meant to, your skin, fascia, muscles, ligaments, and tendons will have a hard time staying supple and move-able.

Simple solution:

Once per day, remove your shoes and socks, and massage your feet with your hands. Use your thumbs and fingers to press into the bottoms and tops of feet, and notice where it feels tender or pinchy as you do so.

In addition to using your hands to massage your feet, you can also use lacrosse balls, dowel rods, edges of coffee tables (for those of you who put your feet up on the coffee table) 😉 to help your soft tissue become more pliable.

Just by pressing into your feet with your hands, you send signals to the cells that make up your soft tissue. Dr. Andreo Spina, creator of the FRC and FR systems, and someone whose knowledge has enhanced my coaching, said it so eloquently:

Soft tissue work is NOT:
– breaking up “Scar tissue” or “adhesions”
– making “tight” muscles “loose”
– making “short” muscles “long”
– as simple as smashing tissue with a blunt object

Soft tissue work is a dialogue between the treating practitioners hands and the cells that make up the tissues said hands are contacting. The language being used is force (Force is the language of cells)…and the message/suggestion, when applied properly, and specifically, can influence the tissues ongoing remolding process.

Pliable soft tissue is only one step though.

In order to actually improve the health of your foot (or any part of your body), you must use the new pliability you’re creating. 

Which brings us to focus point number two…

Move your foot, toes, and ankles through as much of their ranges of motion as possible – regularly.

When you don’t send the signal regularly that your foot should move, it won’t have any reason to maintain its ability to move. After you massage your feet, start exploring movement with your toes, your foot, and your ankle.

Old-school passive stretches are the old way. A smarter way to gain usable mobility in your feet and ankles is to perform drills that include your nervous system in the process of increasing the joint’s range of motion.

Simple solution: 

Here’s two examples of how your drills that help your foot start moving more like a foot.


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5 thoughts on “What To Do When You’ve Got Pain In Your Lower Leg, Foot, Or Toes

  1. Christian D. says:

    Been doing the ‘sit on your heal’ drill since I found the site and it’s helped out an incredible amount on my planter stuff that’s been bothering me the last 4 to 6 months. Thanks.

    Curious…do think you think, or have you seen any documentation on a relation between planter and Sciatica(sp). I had issues with Sciatica and hadn’t been working out and then took up running this spring/summer and I had planter issues that I had not had before. I think there might be some issues.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Trying to get this planter stuff taken care of!

  2. Kate Galliett says:

    High five that your plantar pain is improving!

    Interesting that you mention sciatica and plantar issues….did you know that sometimes sciatica can be mislabeled as plantar fascia pain?

    It’s tricky though…you could be having true sciatica nerve compression that you are only feeling in your foot.

    OR, you could be having plantar pain b/c of the leg swing and stance compensations you could be making bc of the discomfort that the sciatica brings in doing everyday normal things.

    If you’re improving from the foot stretch, then there was likely some plantar mobility issues worked into the equation, and so to answer your question – yes! – there definitely can be a link between sciatica and PF.

    1. Christian D. says:

      Did not know that Sciatica can be mislabled like that. Interesting.

      Things have improved quite a bit, but I feel like I’ve reached a plateau at which the stretching alone isn’t improving things (there was one stretch that you did for calves that I wanted to try but haven’t) so I’m looking for that next step. Really am hoping by the first of the year I can get back into running and not be in pain.

      Thanks for your great information.

  3. silvia alvarez says:

    how often and how long should I do this?

    1. Kate Galliett says:

      Daily would be awesome Silvia! But start with what you can. 🙂

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