Hey, Booboo.
February 12, 2012 5:36 AM   Subscribe

Why do my feet hurt when I do yoga?

I'm very new to yoga. It's a something-seems-wrong-here pain instead of a hurts-so-good, feel-the-burn type of pain. It's mostly in the flat part of my foot (rather than the arches), but it sometimes extends up through the ankles to the midpoint of my calves. I have no history of foot trouble. The pain is worst during warrior pose or during poses that involve standing on one foot. The pain ends right after I finish doing the pose, which maybe means that I'm just worrying too much?

Google is mostly bringing up yahoo answers-type posts with robo responses, or sites on how to use yoga to address foot pain in the rest of your life. Thanks!
posted by HeroZero to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
How often are you doing yoga? Is this the only time you're in bare feet? Is it both feet? If you press on your feet at the same places you put pressure on it during those poses, do they hurt?

I'd be more concerned about your ankles, and that could be where this is coming from.... I wonder if you're actually aligned in your poses correctly. If your ankles hurt, you should move until they don't hurt....if you're having difficulty, speak to your teacher. I was having issues with my wrists and my teacher was really helpful.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 6:01 AM on February 12, 2012

hi. it was doing yoga and noticing really sharp pain in my wrists that made a couple of particular poses unbearable, rather than feeling stretches in the muscles that I was supposed to, that was one of the red flags that I remember before being diagnosed with parathyroid disease. probably not the case for you but you might want to look into your general bone health (any signs of osteopeania/porosis, level of vitamin d, etc) IANAD. not sick anymore, yay

also i felt pain in my feet as probably the 2nd most after my wrists.
posted by saraindc at 6:28 AM on February 12, 2012

I'd talk to your instructor after class and ask if they could check out your warrior pose. If you're doing the pose right, I'd get it checked out.
posted by ejaned8 at 6:41 AM on February 12, 2012

You are new to yoga, and your feet hurt during the Warrior pose. I had that too. Its an unfamiliar, unnatural pose for many non-practitioners. You are clenching muscles in your foot while balancing. It will go away in time, the more you do yoga.
posted by seawallrunner at 6:54 AM on February 12, 2012

This often passes; it did for me. Definitely talk to a teacher that you like about it. They'll talk to you about spreading your toes, which is sort of like trying to make your eyes rotate in different directions.

It might be leftover from downward dog, or be a combo of different stresses on the achilles tendon, the front of the shins, the middle of the foot, even the toes. If you have typical guy body issues like me, your heels come NOWHERE near the floor in downward dog, and also then after that you're doing all kinds of complicated muscle and tendon work balancing in warrior postures.

Take it easy; don't stress yourself; when you really hurt, take a break. *Likely* this is parts of your body being like "hey screw you, we're not used to doing this and we don't know how." What happens when you balance on one foot is that these ligaments are pulling and straining and adjusting repeatedly, really fast, to keep you in position. And they're all "dude there is no nice supportive shoe pushing us into place, this is really annoying."

Starting yoga is really fun and then can be REALLY not fun. You can injure knees, backs, necks and even feet. So really, really don't push yourself. Plus there's a great little learning curve and then there's often plateaus of total suck. (Kind of like running. You're like, I'M AWESOME, LOOK AT MEEEEE. And then you're like wow I'm just not awesome, and I'm not even improving.) The plateaus eventually end.

But the most important thing is not hurting yourself in those periods. And it's hard to not be like, COME ON BODY, DO THIS THING, I WILL MAKE YOU, and instead to be like "hmm maybe next week, let's chill into this." Your feet and hands will strengthen; your hips and knees will get looser. But even after a boatload of yoga, I still have to treat parts of my body pretty carefully. And I even still have burning foot pain sometimes.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:15 AM on February 12, 2012

I have this problem too. I started doing yoga again in October (after about 2 years of not doing it) and worried about this for a while. I've talked to a few of my teachers about it and was told basically what RJ Reynolds says: it's the body adjusting to new activities.

My foot pain has lessened significantly in the last month or so, which I attribute to my body getting stronger and getting used to be in those positions. I know that I have had trouble allowing myself to be where I am, rather than forcing myself into something my body can't quite do. But it's yoga. I remind myself constantly that it's a practice, not a race to an accomplishment.
posted by godshomemovies at 8:33 AM on February 12, 2012

I'd nth asking the instructor over to review your positioning and they will hopefully be able to tweak something that you're doing to improve your alignment.

What style of yoga is your class? Iyengar and Anusara are both very focused on proper alignment and the use of props -- nothing scary -- mostly blocks, blankets, and wedges -- to help you get into the pose properly rather than power your way through. Also these two styles require significant training for certification so most of the teachers are pretty good. If you currently aren't in an Iyengar or Anusara class, you might want to try to find one to see if you like it. I've also found that different teachers, even within the same style, have a way of explaining or demoing the poses that resonates better with me so there's that.

I take classes at an Anusara studio, initially because it was convenient to my apartment, but I happen to like the style and the teachers there. Some people might find it too slow because, at least in the level 1 classes, they spend a lot of time discussing proper alignment and even anatomy. They also encourage questions. If you were in one of the classes that I attend, it would be no big deal if you asked about your foot pain in the middle of class, while you were in the pose, and typically the teacher would come over and observe while you were doing it and make some recommendations.
posted by kaybdc at 8:37 AM on February 12, 2012

Also, if you're having "something is wrong" pain, stop. Ease back or stop completely if the pain doesn't go away; do not press your body to continue the thing that's causing pain.

Ask if the instructor can give you a "modification" of the pose. (I need modifications for wrist pain; I'm sure they will have advice about foot pain.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:04 AM on February 12, 2012

This happened a lot to me when I was just starting yoga. I think it was because I wasn't used to the poses and was unconsciously using my feet to help compensate for my newbie balance. It got better as I got better at balancing.

If you feel pain, stop. If the pain continues after the pose, stop. If the pain continues after class or the next day, rest and ice for a week. It's probably not worth seeing a doctor for unless you get swelling or really can't function, because the first line of attack for this kind of stuff is rest and ice anyway.

I found that stretching my arches, achilles tendon, and calves before and after class helped, too.
posted by elizeh at 7:35 PM on February 12, 2012

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