Updated on July 7th, 2023 at 06:15 pm

Obesity and overweight can increase the risk for specific health problems. You’ve heard of increased blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, and heart disease.

Can being overweight cause foot pain?

Yes, it can. The extra weight the feet carry can cause plantar fascia inflammation, which can trigger plantar fasciitis, an uncomfortable and painful condition. This tendon connects the heel to the toes. If it’s irritated due to increased pressure from excess weight, daily activities like walking can be a challenge. To avoid heel pain, you may change your walking style, creating an imbalance and increasing the chances of falling.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the relationship between obesity and foot complications.

What happens to your feet when you are overweight?

image of man grabbing his foot in pain - Extra Large LivingThe arch in the inner midpoint of your feet provides balance and reflexive spring. Increased weight weakens ligaments and tendons that make up the ankles and feet. Over time, the arches may collapse, resulting in flat feet, uneven weight distribution, and severe pain when walking and standing.

Wearing orthotics can help with the pain but losing weight is the best remedy to reduce the pressure exerted on the arches and other foot problems. In addition, the extra pressure on your foot and ankle may lead to:

  • Tendinitis: it’s similar to plantar fasciitis. The extra weight causes inflammation to the tendons in the ankles and feet. The Achilles tendon connecting the calf muscle to the heel bone is often affected.
  • Bone spurs: an outgrowth from the bone developed to reduce the friction between bones rubbing against each other. Excess weight puts you at serious risk of developing bone spurs and worsens symptoms in those who have it.
  • Ankle arthritis and foot ankle pain: ankle arthritis is a type of osteoarthritis caused by cartilage breakdown.
  • Gout: causes pain to the big toe.
  • Diabetes: additional weight gain results in an increased risk of developing diabetes which can reduce blood flow to the feet and have extremely negative effects.

Will losing weight help with foot pain?

Since too much weight is linked to greater pressure on the feet, studies reveal that even modest weight loss can significantly reduce the strain and pressure on the feet. Working hard to gain a healthy weight can ease foot pain and prevent further symptoms and serious complications.

How much weight do I need to lose before my feet stop hurting?

Even losing as little as 10 pounds can make a significant difference to the pain you feel. With every step you take, the force exerted on the hips, ankles, and feet is not only from your entire weight. Instead, there’s also a downward force in play from taking the step. This force is applied over the area of the foot that touches the ground.

Gaining one pound can exert approximately five more pounds of force on your feet, ankles, and knees. Consequently, losing 20 pounds translates to sparing your feet 100 pounds of unnecessary force on every stride and foot complications extra weight causes.

You might also want to read ‘How bad is 20 pounds overweight?

How do you lose weight when your feet hurt?

image of a woman doing streches - Extra Large LivingLow impact exercises will keep you active, help with weight loss and reduce pressure on your feet. The best low-impact exercises include yoga, water aerobics, swimming, rowing machines, and spin cycling.

To experience even better results, you should manage your diet as you exercise. A golden rule of thumb is to double down on your water intake, the amount of fresh vegetables and fruits you consume, and the lean protein you eat. Avoid consuming refined foods like sugar and white flour and maintain a calorie deficit.

It also helps to think of weight loss as a lifestyle change and avoid making drastic changes. Walking a few minutes every day and gradually increasing the length of the exercise sessions helps in pacing and sticking to the weight loss lifestyle as your foot muscles get stronger and your foot and ankle problems disappear.

What doctor should I see if my foot hurts?

A podiatrist treats all kinds of foot injuries and conditions affecting the ankle and foot. If obesity causes a foot condition like bone spurs, a sprained ankle, or plantar fasciitis, then a podiatrist is the best doctor. Podiatrists also treat fallen arches, heel spurs, calluses, corns, and diabetic foot problems using modern treatment technologies.

On the flip side, an orthopedist specializes in diagnosing, treating, and preventing injuries and conditions affecting musculoskeletal systems. If you suffer an injury affecting the bones, tendons, muscles, and general connective tissues, feel free to contact an orthopedic doctor. They often treat sprains and strains, fractures, spinal disc injuries, ligament tears, and arthritic damage in the joints.

Do feet get smaller with weight loss?

In some instances, they do. Though it’s not always noticeable for every individual, weight loss results in smaller feet. This makes sense when you consider weight loss results in reduced fat distribution in the body, affecting even skin appearance and breast size.

While the amount of soft tissue reduces, the bone structure in your feet remains unaltered. Moreover, attaining a healthy body mass index can reduce pressure on the feet, which reduces swelling and spreading. For some, weight loss also results in a change in shoe size. A drop from EE width to a D width isn’t unheard of.

Now what?

If you are overweight and have a painful foot, you should get overweight walking shoe as they have superior support to regular shoes. If pain hasn’t kicked in or it’s still mild, visit a podiatrist for advice on preventing foot and ankle damage. Losing weight also helps to reduce or avoid foot pain. For more information be sure to check out Extra Large Living.

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