How do I get my feet to get along with my lumpy yard?
July 16, 2012 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Why do my feet hurt after I mow the lawn and what can I do to fix it?

Our lawn is very lumpy, likely from compacted soil. We've been getting it aerated in an effort to fix that but it takes some time and the grass keeps growing.

I mow with a walk-behind style lawnmower and it takes me about an hour to do it. When I'm done, my feet ache really bad in the arches. It feels good to stand with my arches on the edge of carpeted stairs or a broom-stick or something if that helps you get an idea of what it feels like.

I used to mow the lawn in some old sneakers that I have but switched to my normal "walking around" shoes because they fit me better (I have extra wide feet and most of my other shoes are regular width). They help a little but the same things still happens. I can and have walked around all day on pavement with these shoes without any particular issues so I don't think the fit is the issue. Maybe it's something the construction on the uneven terrain?

Do I need different shoes or inserts? If so, what needs to different about them? Is there anything else I can do?
posted by VTX to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Given the uneven nature of your lawn, you should be wearing something that you'd go trail-hiking in. Not necessarily clunky, vibram-soled shoes...Maybe a pair of trail runners?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:17 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

If it felt ok in the sneakers, get some sneakers that fit you. I have wide feet too. Wide sneakers are harder to find, but they're out there. If you can't find anything nearbye, you can order them on-line. I have had good luck with these guys in the past.
posted by ubiquity at 9:26 AM on July 16, 2012

I use a pair of very stiff, vibram soled hikers. Haven't had a problem with my arches hurting as long as I use them. If I a trying to squeeze in a mowing and use anything else my arches will scream.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:31 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

N'thing Hitchcock for a decent pair of hiking or work boots/shoes... but be warned, the shoes will vary wildly from one style to the next in terms of size and fit. If there's any way in the universe you can swing by their showroom in Hingham (Maybe a vacation to the Cape with a daytrip to do some shoe shopping?), MA, it will change your life if you have 4E or wider feet. Once you find a pair that you like, they can make recommendations.

You may also want to see a podiatrist. Flat feet/fallen arches give you that "I need to stand on a broomstick, or I will die!" feeling - they can recommend if you need orthotics or not.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:40 AM on July 16, 2012

For some reason the socks I wear make a huge difference in whether or not the bottoms of my feet hurt after walking in the exact same pair of shoes. Do you have special mowing-the-lawn socks that are different from your others?
posted by something something at 10:42 AM on July 16, 2012

I have high arches too, and no matter what I do, without arch support, my dogs are barking after standing or walking for long periods of time.

Your old sneaks may have given up the ghost re: arch support.

Wal-Mart has a Dr. Schoal insert machine where you can get semi-custom orthotics made. Check that out and see if it helps.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:54 AM on July 16, 2012

I only have one kind of sock (other than dress socks) that I wear. As far as I can tell, the terrain and the presence of the mower are the only variables. Walking in the same shoes (I've tossed the sneakers and use some well fitting Rockport Casual shoes), with the same socks, is fine.

I'm pretty sure that the same thing would happen if I walked around my yard for an hour with the mower.
posted by VTX at 10:59 AM on July 16, 2012

How hard is it to push your mower? I bet you're doing much more pushing off your toes while mowing. Try doing the tennis ball arch roller before and after and see if that helps.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:15 AM on July 16, 2012

How hard is it to push your mower?

Not very hard at all. It's self-propelled/walk-behind mower and I don't push it at all.
posted by VTX at 11:24 AM on July 16, 2012

Do you get hotter while mowing the grass than you do while walking the city? Hot feet can swell and be uncomfortable in all sorts of unexpected ways.
posted by aimedwander at 11:57 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

On uneven terrain, your arches have to work harder. As you stand on ground that slopes this way and that, your arches are the part of your feet tasked with keeping you upright. A stiffer shoe with good arch support should give you relief. So basically, I agree with the hiking boot recommendations.
posted by advicepig at 12:30 PM on July 16, 2012

Your feet are weak basically and getting tired on uneven ground. You can go with a stiff soled shoe but ultimately your feet are going to get weaker and stiffer if you do. I'd take this as a warning sign and start walking barefoot more or doing exercise designed to strengthen your foot muscles and improve ankle mobility.
posted by fshgrl at 4:58 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

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