If you have a club foot, you no doubt experience some level of pain. Below you’ll find the pain management and strengthening strategies that work best for me.
Over the past few years, I’ve been experimenting a lot and have made some huge progress with reducing my club foot pain, as well as strengthening the muscles and improving my mobility.
I try to work with a few preventative strategies, and a few for when the pain really kicks in.
For me, sometimes in the past I’ve been unable to walk for a week, and sometimes I can do almost any physical activity with limited pain.
Everyone with a clubfoot has a different situation, and different levels of difficulty, but I hope something on my list can bring you some relief.
1. Gentle Ankle Stretch Exercises
I have 3 main go-to exercises that are really good for a bit of gentle ankle movement.
These work best as a preventative measure – when I manage to do them everyday, my ankle is generally less painful, and is more prepared for any pressure (e.g going for a hike).
I’ve made a youtube video, which you can watch below, or you can read the written instructions on my post – 3 Gentle Club Foot Exercises.
Buy or make a good massage ointment that contains arnica, and give yourself a gentle massage.
Massage the tops of your feet, your Achilles, the ankle bones, up your calf muscle, and anywhere else that you feel pain.
Massage the bottom of your feet too… even if they’re not painful, it’ll help.
I used to use Vicks VapourRub occasionally before I started making my own. This gives a crazy sensation, and gave me really amazing short term relief (it doesn’t contain arnica, but it has camphor and menthol, which also help).
Keep some ointment next to your bed, and give your feet a 5 minute massage every night.
I used to get a professional deep tissue massage every 2 weeks to once per month – mainly because I have a shorter leg and that wreaks havoc with my back and neck, but we also focused on my ankle and foot muscles. And it made enormous progress.
3. Foot Scrub and Soak
Scrub any dead skin away with a pumice of some type – either in the shower or use a dry pumice (you can buy good ones from the Body Shop).
Buy a big foot-sized container (a big Tupperware is good), and give yourself a footsoak.
I like to use warm water or green tea, with a few drops of Tea Tree oil and a few drops of Arnica oil… or add whatever muscle relief essential oils you prefer.
Soak your feet in here for 20 minutes while you read or watch TV.
For me, this is such a simple thing that changed my life when I started doing it.
Some days it didn’t help that much, but some days I get enormous relief from this. And it generally helps me have an amazing sleep that night.
Taking care of ourself like this is something that’s easy to neglect or “not have time for”, but if you do it, it can bring massive relief.
Again, a large reason for me doing yoga is to alleviate the pain with my unbalanced back and neck, but it’s also helped me a lot with my club foot problems.
Some yoga poses will help by getting movement into your feet and supporting muscles, and some will help by strengthening them – mainly poses where you stand on one leg.
This can be a real challenge… I often sway and fall over in class, but it’s ok…. there’s nothing like the feeling when I manage to balance on my right leg in Tree Pose for a whole 2 minutes.
If you can’t balance on one leg, that’s ok too. There are many many other yoga poses that can help.
And I can really feel the muscles in my feet working and getting stronger. Yoga teachers and a physio and a chiropractor all told me that doing yoga will reduce how much I’m impacted by arthritis, and I’ve noticed that even now in the years since I started.
5. Walking and Stretching in a Swimming Pool
I recently moved to a hilly suburb in Barcelona. And while it’s very nice and interesting, my club foot pain really flared up from walking on hills every day.
It felt like all the progress I’d made over the years had been thrown out the window – to the point of constant ankle pain, and eventually I didn’t leave the house most days unless I had to.
Then luckily, I found a gym down the road with a beautiful ‘hydro-massage’ pool – a pool with warm salt water.
So I started walking lengths of the pool, and stretching whatever way my body needed. And it was amazing!
Floating in the pool takes the pressure of your joints, so you can move more freely… plus you’re soaking your muscles.
Every few years I have one of those monumental shift in my levels of mobility and strength… and this was one.
After each session of walking and stretching, my whole ankle joint, toes, and muscles up the front of my shin felt amazing. Immediately I could walk better, and within a week 90% of the new intense pain was gone. Pretty much I could walk every day again on the hills, and then do my exercises in the pool.
The main things I did were; walking lengths of the pool (normal walking, and some lunge walking), squats and lunges, versions of my 3 ankle stretches above, holding on to the side of the pool and kicking my feet gently, and general yoga stretches. If people are interested, I can write a plan of the exercises I do… comment if you’d be interested in that.
Try this! I know I’ve read many posts on Facebook and forums from people who clearly have more pain that I do, and I think this is something that could really bring enormous benefit for a lot of people.
6. Meditation – focusing on muscles and joints
I do this as a whole body meditation, but you can focus solely on your feet if you like.
Lie down, listening to calming music, and take 5 deep inhales. Feeling your lungs and belly expand and contract.
Start to focus on your toes, going through each toe and noticing any sensation. Any time you feel a pain sensation, imagine those individual muscles expanding as you breathe in, and relaxing as you breath out.
Once you’ve gone through each of your toes, move under the foot – inhaling and imagining the muscles expand, and exhaling as they relax.
Then come to the top of the foot, and up into the ankle joint.
Then to your Achilles and the sides of your ankle.
Then up your calf, to your knee, to your thighs, and continue up.
Meditation has given me enormous improvements in my leg, hips, back, neck… as well as all the emotional and brain benefits that come with it.
I’m going to make a long bodyscan meditation audio soon to share, based on the process I use. So if you’d like a copy, follow my OneLegShorter Facebook page and I’ll share it when it’s ready.
I hope these tips help you. They’ve given me enormous relief for my club foot pain and helped me gain more ankle mobility and strength. If any of them helped you, please let me know in the comments, or share your own tips!