(NEXSTAR) – Have your feet been aching lately? You might have “pandemic foot.” Don’t worry, it’s got nothing to do with the latest COVID-19 strain – and curing this ailment appears to be much easier.
The reason for an uptick in reported foot pain over the past few years is probably related to an increase in working from home, doctors say. It’s because many people don’t wear shoes in the house, and walking barefoot so often can cause problems.
“Walking around barefoot, with socks or house slippers can put you at increased risk for foot problems, including plantar fasciitis, tendinitis and metatarsalgia (pain and inflammation in the ball of your foot),” said Dr. Mark Weissman, a podiatric surgeon with Cedars-Sinai Hospital.
Being barefoot can hurt people with flat feet, as well as people with high arches. When you have flat feet, not wearing shoes with arch support puts extra strain on your ankle and the inside of your foot, Weissman said. If you have high arches, being barefoot can put extra pressure on the balls of your feet and heels.
Either way, it can lead to strain and pain.
“While working from home, a type of shoe you could wear would be an athletic shoe with an arch support and a deep heel counter, which prevents your foot from rolling to the inside when you’re walking. This support helps with what we call pronation so that your foot doesn’t fall to the inside when you walk. A slipper with arch support can also be a great option,” said Dr. Joy Rowland, a Cleveland Clinic podiatrist.
Socks, flip-flops and average slippers don’t help either. “You want a stiff shoe, like an athletic sneaker,” said Dr. Jessica Milliman, a podiatrist at University Hospitals in Ohio. “A stiff shoe means you can’t fold it in half or twist it.”
If wearing shoes in the house grosses you out, you can buy a pair just for indoors, Milliman suggested. If your feet sweat, Rowland suggested taking shoes off while you sit but slipping them back on when you get up.
Sitting for too long and bad posture could also be contributing to your foot pain, Rowland said. She recommended stretching frequently and taking breaks to stand up and get your body moving.
If you make changes and still experience pain, Rowland recommended making an appointment with a podiatrist.