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The Impact of Obesity on Foot Health | Find Your Stride

Updated: Aug 3, 2023


In today's blog post, we aim to shed light on the impact of obesity, specifically non-specific foot pain and chronic plantar heel pain, while providing encouraging and empowering insights to help you take better care of your feet. So, let's lace up our imaginary walking shoes and embark on this empowering journey together!

Understanding Non-Specific Foot Pain

Obesity, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) over 30, can exert substantial stress on our feet, leading to various conditions that manifest as non-specific foot pain. Excessive weight places extra pressure on our feet, compressing joints, soft tissues, and ligaments beyond their optimal capacity. Over time, this can result in the development of foot pain that may worsen with movement, impeding our daily activities and overall quality of life.

Chronic Plantar Heel Pain

One of the most common foot conditions related to obesity is chronic plantar heel pain, commonly known as plantar fasciopathy. This condition arises from thickening and sometimes inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. The additional strain placed on the plantar fascia by excess weight can lead to micro-tears, painful inflammation, and persistent discomfort.

What do the researchers tell us?

A systematic review conducted in 2012 looked into the association between body mass index and musculoskeletal foot disorders (read the paper here) concluded that there is strong evidence of an association between increased BMI and nonspecific foot pain as well as chronic plantar heel pain in a non-athletic population. The authors also stated that evidence is inconclusive regarding the relationship between BMI and conditions such as hallux valgus, tendonitis, osteoarthritis and flat foot.

Further research by published in 2019 (read the paper here) compared foot structure, function, plantar pressure and balance ability according to the BMI of young adults, taking a look at 52 different people. The authors concluded that obese young adults had more abnormalities in the medial longitudinal arch, plantar fascia, and plantar pressure as well as weakened ankle eversion strength and balance problems compared with the normal weight group, which ties in with the higher prevalence of non-specific foot pain and chronic plantar heel pain.

The Road to Better Foot Health

1. Awareness is key: Recognise that your foot pain may be linked to obesity. This self-awareness allows you to take proactive steps towards managing your condition.

2. Healthy weight management: When it comes to foot health, maintaining a healthy weight can be very helpful. By adopting a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity recommended by your healthcare professional, you can gradually reduce the load on your feet, alleviating pain and reducing the risk of further complications.

3. Supportive footwear: Invest in appropriate footwear that provides optimal support (see our footwear advice here). Properly fitting shoes with shock-absorbing properties or orthotics can significantly enhance foot comfort, reducing the impact on your feet during physical activities.

4. Gentle exercises and stretches: Incorporating low-impact exercises, like swimming or cycling, can help promote weight loss while minimising stress on your feet. This is usually a good place to start. Additionally, targeted stretching exercises can help maintain flexibility, strengthen the muscles supporting your feet, and relieve pain.

5. Seek professional guidance: It is sensible to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist or orthopaedic specialist, as they can provide valuable guidance tailored to your condition. They may suggest additional interventions, such as physical therapy, custom orthotics, or other suitable modalities to address your foot pain.

6. Gradual progression: Remember that Rome wasn't built in a day! Take small steps towards improving your foot health, setting realistic goals as you slowly incorporate healthier lifestyle habits. Celebrate each milestone achieved, and remember that consistency is key when it comes to long-term foot health.


By understanding the impact of obesity on foot health and adopting an encouraging attitude towards self-care, you are taking proactive measures to improve your overall well-being. Embracing a healthier lifestyle, consistent exercise regimen, supportive footwear, and professional advice, you can mitigate non-specific foot pain and chronic plantar heel pain, ultimately empowering yourself to walk towards a more pain-free and active future.

Remember, your feet carry you through life's adventures, so treat them with the care and attention they deserve. Start today, one step at a time, and begin your journey towards happy, healthy, and empowered feet.

Find Your Stride!

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