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Pain Management

This Surprising Symptom of the COVID Pandemic Could Be Affecting You

It’s hard to count all the ways our lives have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Everything feels slightly different as we navigate this new world, and even our bodies feel the change — right down to our feet! That’s right: According to podiatrists, the pandemic might be responsible if you’re suddenly feeling more foot pain.

Why is the pandemic hurting our feet?

For many of us, returning to “normal” life after months of staying home meant saying goodbye to sweatpants and finally digging our old everyday clothes out of the closet, including some pairs of shoes that hadn’t seen the light of day in a while. But if you were looking forward to wearing your favorite pair of shoes and were disappointed to find they didn’t quite fit, you’re not alone!

Why? You can likely chalk it up to the fact that you likely spent a lot of time barefoot or in comfy slippers while you were home more. All that shoe-free time can actually change the structure of your feet, which may now be a different size. Podiatrists say the ligaments in our feet experience more wear and tear when we walk around barefoot, or in unsupportive shoes. The result? Trying to fit our feet into old shoes is painful! “A lot of people think walking barefoot shouldn’t be a problem, but actually walking barefoot can exacerbate a number of foot problems,” Elizabeth Cody, MD, told Health.

Some people may have also developed conditions like plantar fasciitis or a collapsed arch, both of which can cause foot pain. Either way, your feet might need a little extra help now that they’re being forced back into shoes every day.

How to Relieve Pandemic-Induced Foot Pain

One way to help soothe your foot pain is to start wearing shoes around your home for certain periods of the day. Though it might not seem like it, you’re likely on your feet just as much at home as you would’ve been in the office, if not more! Wearing supportive shoes, like a thick-soled slipper or sandal, around the house can help. (A brand like Birkenstock, while on the pricier side, makes for a great at-home shoe.)

Other conditions, such as plantar fasciitis, are best assessed by a doctor, who can recommend the best care plan for you. If you suspect that something besides the wrong size shoe might be behind your foot pain, don’t delay in making an appointment to get it checked out. A podiatrist will also be able to advise you about what kind of shoes you should wear, whether you’re out and about or at home.

No one knows your feet better than you do, but pandemic foot pain can take anyone by surprise. Check in with your feet and see what they need to feel better.

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