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  • Jean Jordan

Inspiring Weight Bearing Exercise – Walking With Sore Feet And Painful Knees

Updated: 13 hours ago

natural pain therapist Jean standing at the finish line of Christchurch marathon
Waiting at the finish of Christchurch marathon

This article draws your attention to one of the easiest ways to exercise more, move more to improve our health and wellness - walking. I'm sure if I asked you to list the benefits of regular walking, you'd be able to give me several answers.


But we all need inspiration at times not only to walk but to overcome barriers, such as sore feet or painful knees to begin regular walking.


I've found my inspiration. Perhaps my article can help you find your motivation too.


"I always want to develop opportunities for self-help for health - test them out before I share with my readers – today it’s exercise.”


Recently I was lucky enough to be 10 minutes’ walk away from the finish of the annual marathon in Christchurch. That's me in the photo. While waiting for the race leaders I decided to practice my balance, hence see how long I could stand on one leg!


What will Inspire you to Walk and Exercise More?


Now don't swipe away as I won't be suggesting that you run a marathon. Marathons are definitely for dedicated amazing people. Suffice to say the commentator at the event shared that the speed of the leaders in the marathon was around 20 km/h. He also suggested that if we tried this speed on a walking machine, we would probably end up flat on our face on the gym floor.


What I personally found inspiring was the variety in those 5000 runners and walkers who took part in this year’s event.


"Apart from the full marathon; there was a half marathon and a 10km. The latter two also for those who wanted to walk."


The morning was cool, a perfect day for many people mostly from New Zealand but also some from overseas. Christchurch is very flat so I guess that might have attracted a lot of people. The course circled around the city and also around Hagley Park.


I particularly noticed those sight impaired runners and their support person. There was one man in his 90s, apparently well known for his running. There was, for me, a very memorable lady, very overweight, she would be medically labelled as morbidly obese, walking 10km. She walked through the finish line with the most amazing smile on her face. I salute her effort especially the amount of time she must've devoted to training for this walk.


There are Many Ways to Exercise More, Move More, all of us can Work to Improve our Health

Since watching the marathon I've quietly (keeping my ideas close) been attempting an hour's exercise every day either:

§  Walking around the block,

§  Walking into town,

§  Walking around the park,

§  Doing Zumba, 

§  Some of the short NHS online videos

§  If I'm slack or weather is bad, I encourage myself to include a few more up and down the stairs.


Here’s a Health Tip - Just Walking up the Stairs


Stairs or steps at home can provide ready-made exercise for your legs, feet, knees, hips and the numerous ligaments and muscles that make them work. The other day I was walking upstairs, again, when I decided to step up using just the ball of my foot. Wow, that really woke up my calf muscles!

feet of a person walking up stairs for exercise

Whatever the weather, when you need to energize yourself just a few steps, jumps, or hops up the stairs. A great lower body strengthener for muscles and bones and it's just there in your house.


Walking improves Brain Function and Creativity


So, why walk?


Research by Mariltz Oppezzo has shown that walking helps our creativity; this has certainly been my experience. Here are some advantages I’ve found going walking on a regular basis.


§  Clear thinking - that's why I came home today and started writing this blog which was put together in my mind as I was walking.

§  Improves overall fitness,

§  After a few weeks I seem to have more energy.

§  Definitely, regular walking has improved my sleep.

§  I leave my book downstairs, go to bed and get to sleep easier, not lying awake for hours, something I've done for many years.


Some other, less Tangible Changes that I Think have Occurred after Walking More.


§  I feel it's improved my circulation. My feet and legs are not as cold in bed at night.

§  I feel more resilient against the sudden freezing cold snap that has settled in Canterbury this May.

§  I may also be building up by strength so I can walk comfortably for longer?


Now it’s your Turn - What Advantages do you Want from Walking?


What’s your idea?


What’s your plan?


What’s the change you want?



“Ah! I'm sure some of you are saying - but I can't walk because walking hurts my feet”



Physical Problems can Stop us Walking – Sore Feet, Knees, or Hips?


Above I've listed all the positives of walking, but there are also negatives and problems too.


I’ll start with my sore foot story.

Many, many years ago, probably about 20, I was diagnosed with a Morton’s neuroma, a very painful irritation of the nerves in my foot. I felt I was walking on sharp stones.



Morton’s neuromas mainly affect middle-aged women which I was when mine first started. Some suggestions I found, for treatment for Morton’s neuroma that I'll share, as some of you may have the same problem.


1.     Conservative treatment - insoles, spreading toes using a thin sock or there are plastic separators that can be bought, wearing shoes with the toe box.


2.     Injections such as corticosteroids that can give extensive relief for some people, but can be of short duration, or no change for others.



3.     Surgery can be a decisive way to resolve pain. However, as I was told many years ago there can be negative secondary outcomes due to the fact the foot is a complicated area with many nerves and small bones.



At the time when my Morton’s neuroma started, treatment options open to me were medication for the pain, an injection, or to have an operation that scared me, mightily.

I chose to avoid these.


However, I did find another solution; an insole in my shoe that had a supportive metatarsal bar. Luckily that worked very well until it wore out and I couldn't find another one. Therefore, the final option - do nothing!


Over the years, of doing nothing, I had been careful, perhaps guarding my foot and moving in a way that it wouldn't be too painful. However, during this process there has been permanent changes with reduced movement, and I suspect some calcification.


Benefits of Being a Yoga Teacher - I use Yoga when Walking


As a consequence, I’m one of those people who at times suffers with painful feet. Here’s one of my relief actions, yoga thoughts. Tadasana or mountain pose is an excellent pose that I often think about when I'm walking. Thinking about how my body is, let's say, holding itself and adjusting into what I could call a walking tadasana pose seems to take the stress off the ball of my foot and hence less pressure, thus relieving my foot pain.


Reasons Why Walking Exercise is Difficult – My Feet Hurt!


As in my own story above, it's time I addressed one main difficulty in being able to do a lot more walking to improve your physical and mental health. Unfortunately, many people have sore feet, therefore however much I encourage you, try to motivate you to walk, it is not something can enjoy doing if your feet hurt.


Let’s Start Planning to get Walking to Feel Great!


First thing to check.

Do you have comfortable shoes? Supportive shoes for walking. I am not suggesting you have to buy some flash walking shoes but be sure to test drive them yourself.


§  Are they safe and supportive?

§  Do you have a sole that is strong enough so you can walk on a range of different surfaces.


I have a pair of shoes that I purchased specifically for walking, but they are not comfortable in fact they have never been comfortable, leaving the bottom of my feet sore when walking. Therefore I still rely on my very old trainers with a toe box (remember my Morton’s neuroma]. These old shoes with re-glued soles that are slowly wearing out.


Inspiration for a new pair, perhaps?



Weight Bearing Exercise Good for Muscles and Bones


We expect our feet to perform, day in, day out but like many areas of our body they need care and attention.


The great thing about walking, it’s a weight-bearing exercise. It’s also one of the most inexpensive activities that can be done.  Hopefully you can go walking outside in your neighbourhood if your surroundings are suitable and safe. Where you live may also be weather dependent, consequently you might need the option of a walking machine or walking around the house or the garden.


nature picture on walking machine in gym

I was quite intrigued on a recent holiday. I went to the hotel gymnasium as it was raining. While there I choose to walk on one of their machines. I was amazed and certainly enjoyed myself using various programs to walk in various places around the world. Therefore, although I was in the gymnasium on a machine, I could still watch the world go by and experience the healing power of nature.


I thought this was an excellent idea and it certainly made for a more interesting experience on a walking machine that I must admit I generally find a little bit boring.



We Don’t do Much Natural Walking these Days


Perhaps because of technology you spend your time at work sitting in front of a computer more or less tied to the chair for seven or eight hours a day. Then you drive home which depending on how long your commute to work, you could again be sitting in a car or train for an hour or two.


Unfortunately, this is how our lives have developed and changed over the last century. There was a time when not everybody had a car and not even everybody had a television let alone the computers and mobile phones we have today.


“Hence this is an important article that I bring to you today! For our health both physical health and mental health we need to move much more than we do.”


Which brings us back to having painful feet or knees especially when we walk.


Steps to Get Walking to be Part of your Physical Health


Firstly, start slowly.

This means two things: -

§  When you come out the door walk slowly to get warmed up.

§  Start with walking a short distance.


Beware, there's nothing worse than feeling very energetic and very motivated, this causes you end up walking for an hour or two, unfortunately the next day everything hurts including your feet. As a consequence, you're not keen to integrate walking into your exercise routine. Perhaps you’ll give up!


Where’s your Health Plan?


However, it is really important to have a plan, and this generally means a plan to increase the number of steps of the speed you walk.


If you think about the walkers in the Christchurch marathon that I mentioned at the beginning of this article; each and every one of them would have had a plan to achieve their goals. This idea also is important if we want to get the full benefit of putting walking exercise, regularly into our lifestyle.




Secondly, your feet, ankles and knees and I guess need to include hips as well, need to "get into shape". It's especially important to do this prehab (that is getting body, muscles and ligaments and bones ready for exercise) if you have chronic pain or lead a sedentary lifestyle.


Although exercise is a fundamental part of the treatment of chronic pain it needs to be done with the help of clinician who will not only encourage you but will give you advice on how to take care of your muscles.


Healthy muscles need a healthy diet:



Importance of Weight Bearing Exercise to Strengthen Bones


One way to stop pain is to avoid walking as much as possible - not a good idea!

Although to keep fit and avoid painful walking an alternative exercise such as aqua aerobics or cycling may seem to be a good idea. These are certainly great for aerobic exercise for cardiovascular health or muscles, but unfortunately, they are not classified as weight bearing and it is weight bearing that we need to strengthen our bones.


Arthritic Pain in Your Foot or Knee


if there is one health condition or diagnosis that can certainly stop us in our tracks, it's osteoarthritis. This can be painful, and also to make our pain, stiffness and pain worse we are told it's a lifelong disease that will only deteriorate.


How can we be optimistic when we hear such negative remarks. Arthritis is not a type of pain I've worked with often in the past but I have began to research as arthritis affects globally 300 million people and is the 11th most debilitating disease worldwide. (Santosa, 2023)


Self help for sore feet and painful knees


As I continue with my exercising, walking around the parks and streets around my home in Christchurch it brings us back to when I mentioned the Morton's neuroma that I’ve had for several years. At times flares up to spoil my walks.


Also its timely to discuss people who develop painful arthritis in their feet, ankles, or knees. Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is going to cause difficulties in my inspiring you to be walkers. To make walking part of your self-help for your health and wellness I thought I'd see if I could find some natural solutions that again would be, shall I say encouraging.


An exercise that I’ve found useful: -


·      I like this exercise for the ankle flexibility




Epsom Salts may Relieve Pain of Osteoarthritis


Various countries are investigating the use of Epsom salts to relieve pain, especially in older people as it's easy and inexpensive. Now we like easy and inexpensive solutions here at natural pain solutions.

The best way for those sore feet of ours is a soak in a warm foot bath. Epsom salts are magnesium sulphate that dissolve to relax muslces and reduce stiffness and may have a soothing effect on the skin.

Sankar found hot water application with Epsom salt was effective in reducing knee joint pain among elderly. for this they used warm poultices soaked in Epsom salts used on arthritic knees.

In a recent development in 2023 Santosa did research to develop epsom salt gels that have been shown to relieve pain and would be easier to use then soaking in baths or making up a poultice. The effectivenss of the most concentrated gel of 3% is almost equivalent to diclofenac sodium, the oral drug, without the negative side effects.




Jean Jordan

Want to find simple effective ways to reduce your chronic pain (change for each blog/topic) without increasing your stress and overwhelm? This is where I can help! Ideas can be found in the articles on my website. You can sign-up to regular updates or spend time using some of the collection of self-help techniques.

After over 20 years of having my own pain clinics pain clinics I started natural pain solutions to reach more people, rather than one person at a time. Therefore when I completed my postgraduate pain management studies I wanted to spread the word about holistic self-help techniques that people can use at home. Learn more about me here.




Oppezzo M, Schwartz DL. Give your ideas some legs: the positive effect of walking on creative thinking. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2014 Jul;40(4):1142-52.

Nimkar, Pallavi, et al. "Effectiveness Of Hot Water Application With Epsom Salt To Reduce Knee Joint Pain In Osteoarthritis Among Women Residing In Selected Urban Community Of Maharashtra State." European Journal of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, vol. 8, no. 1, Wntr 2021, pp. 243+.

Sankar L. Effectiveness of Epsom Salt with Hot Water Application on Knee Joint Pain among Elderly in a Selected Rural Area at Puducherry. Pon J Nurs 2019;12(2):42–45.

Santosa A, Ratri R, Isnaini N, Astuti I. Formulation and evaluation of Epsom salt-based gel to reduce osteoarthritis pain. JDDT [Internet]. 15Jun.2023 {cited 24May2024];13(6):112-7.

Valisena S, Petri GJ, Ferrero A. Treatment of Morton's neuroma: A systematic review. Foot Ankle Surg. 2018 Aug;24(4):271-281. doi: 10.1016/j.fas.2017.03.010. Epub 2017 Apr 5. PMID: 29409240.

Effect of Using Warm Shower and Warm Water Footbath with and Without Adding Epsom Salt on Fatigue Level in Systemic Lupus Patients. (2020). Indian Journal of Public Health Research & Development, 11(5), 850-855.



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