The foot is indeed a major part of the body, consisting of a complex set of tendons, muscles, joints, and bones. All these unique components of the feet enable it to support the weight of the body, as well as withstand walking, standing, and other everyday movements. Various types of physical complications and injuries can easily affect the physical ability of the foot. Thus, this can lead to complications such as pain and secondary issues such as back pain. Any high impact force on the top section of the foot is also commonly associated with instep foot pain.

Damage to the arch in the feet is a common cause of instep foot pain. It affects runners and, most commonly athletes, but it can also occur in less active people. The arch of the foot stretches from the base of your toes to your heel. Besides that, it plays a vital role in any activity where you have to engage the feet. The arch helps to stabilize the body in positions where you have to engage the feet. Pain in the arches can occur when you injure the bones or muscles that.

How Your Feet Work

The feet have a unique physical structure that comprises of as many as 26 bones, 30 small joints, muscles, nerves, and more. Usually, the complications that arise in the feet are most often associated with arthritis. Normal feet comprise of an arch structure, that helps to spread the weight of the body consistently over the joints and bones. More so, the lower arches tend to be relatively flexible, while the higher arches are usually rigid. The physical structure of the foot also adjusts as we grow, which can increase one`s risk of getting foot complications. For instance, elderly people tend to have weak muscles, especially in the feet.

How to Diagnose the Pain?

If you experience regular foot pain that lasts for more than one week, then consider visiting a medical health professional. Furthermore, consult with a doctor when the pain is severe and compromises your ability to walk. You should also consult with a doctor if you have any form of discomfort or tingling. Once you make an appointment with a doctor, they might seek information about various factors that led to the injury. More so, they may also ask you to engage in some form of physical activity, to determine the nature of the damage.

If the medical professional suspects a broken bone, fracture, or muscle tear, then they will perform an x-ray on your foot. Other tests that a doctor might perform include:

  • Blood tests to rule out complications such as gout
  • An MRI test to evaluate for any instance of damage in the nerves
  • Passive and active test to determine the ability of the foot to engage in physical activity

Common Treatments for Instep Foot Pain

Since the feet support the entire weight of the body, any case of injury could lead to secondary issues without proper treatment. Thus, seeking treatment is crucial if you come across any form of discomfort or injury. The treatment for the underlying physical complication might include the following:

  • Physical therapy, which will be used to address various complications such as extensor tendonitis, peroneal nerve and more
  • A cast or walking boot of complications such as fractures and broken bones
  • Using Non-Steroid Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen and more

Home Treatment

The home treatment process involves basic DIY techniques you can apply now to control the pain. Consider getting some rest and avoid placing any weight on the affected area. Rehabilitating the feet might involve a combination of specific techniques to achieve the best results. More so, using hot and cold therapy techniques can help you address any high levels of pain that increase over the days.


There are various types of physical activity that you can use to address the occurrence of instep foot pain. These exercises are applicable in relation to the level of pain that you experience and your physical characteristics as well. The common exercises for instep footpain might include:

Warmup Twists

The warmup twists are an excellent form of foot massage. The technique involved in managing this type of pain includes the following steps:

  1. Place the palms on either side of your foot
  2. Then pull the right side of your foot forward, as you use the left side back
  3. Then, push the left side of the foot back, as you also pull the right section forward
  4. Repeat this motion that involves twisting, and ensure that you engage the hands all the way from your ankle to the toes

Arch Rubs

Arch rubs are excellent for working the underside section of your foot. To apply this method, use the following:

  1. Hold the top part of your foot in one hand
  2. Then, use the fingers of the other hand, to massage the length of each foot arch
  3. Repeat this process, working all the way from the heel to the ball of your foot

Toe Bends

Toe bends help to improve the range of motion of each foot. This massage technique involves the following:

  1. Hold your heel using one of your hands
  2. Then, curl all your toes on one foot forward and back simultaneously by using the free hand
  3. Repeat this process, as you gradually increase the pressure and flex your toes until they achieve a full range of motion

Foot Spread

Foot spread helps to enhance the natural movement of the foot, such that it restores its natural width. To make the most of this technique, consider the following:

  1. Hold each side of your foot
  2. Pull each section of the foot outward
  3. Repeat this flexing motion and ensure you provide the foot with adequate room to spread


It is not always possible for one to prevent foot injury completely. That said, applying the proper foot care techniques can be beneficial. You should consider the following:

  • Ease into physical activity – most types of foot injury occur when you strain the structures that exist in the foot, mainly due to intense pressure. Thus, ensure that you ease into each activity gradually, to ensure the body has sufficient time to adjust.
  • Warm-up and cold down – it’s also essential that you apply the proper exercising regimen, to ensure the muscles are ready for physical activity
  • Rest your feet – the joints and muscles can benefit significantly when you take some time off from physical activity. This is particularly true for individuals who engage in sports, high impact activities, and more. You can also consider alternating the exercise with low impact activities such as yoga, swimming, and more.
  • Wear supportive shoes – this is particularly important for individuals who have complications such as arthritis. Shoes that provide the perfect fit and offer optimal support help to prevent any issues such as sprains.

Common Causes of Foot Pain


An injury such as bone break or sprain can occur in any section of the foot. Complications in the top of the foot can occur due to issues such as dropping a heavy item on top of your foot.

Lisfranc or Mid-Foot Injury

Dropping a heavy item on the top section of the foot can lead to issues such as muscle damage and minute cracks in the bone. Otherwise referred to as the mid-foot, the middle section of the foot is vital for body balance. It’s an area of the body that comprises of small bones that help to form the arch of the foot. If any of the bones in the mid-foot experience damage, then you might experience pain or discomfort. The mid-foot injuries might also occur due to issues such as accidents or intense pressure in the foot area. A hairline or stress fracture might also happen in this section of the foot due to problems such as overuse. Mid-foot injuries, or lisfranc injuries, can range in between mild to severe, and relate to the number of tendons that exist in the body.

Fracture of the Fifth Metatarsal

Any pain that occurs on the exterior section of the foot most often relates to the fifth metatarsal. It is a bone that connects the small toe, to the centre of the foot. The common complications that might occur on the fifth metatarsal include:

  • Avulsion fracture – this type of injury occurs when ligament or tendon in the body experiences intense stretching. The fracture often occurs along with an ankle roll injury, and it may occur with an ankle sprain as well.
  • Jones fracture – this type of fracture will happen on close to the fifth metatarsal, and on the centre or the exterior section of the foot. It can be a small fracture, that occurs due to issues such as constant stress or strain on a specific part of the foot. More so, it might also occur due to a severe break in the bones due to high impact falls.

NB: If the damage in the fifth metatarsal is the leading cause of pain, then consider investing in medical care. More so, releasing pressure from the foot and applying the RICE technique is also useful for the management process.

Extensor Tendinitis

Tendinitis refers to a form of inflammation that occurs on the extensor muscles in the feet. The tendinitis can occur in many sections of the legs and the feet. It may also occur in the extensor tendons, which are found on the top part of the foot. These are muscles in the top of the foot, which are useful for flexing and pulling the foot upward. If these sections of the foot get inflamed or suffer from overuse, then they might get damaged. The condition is medically referred to as extensor tendinitis, which can lead to immense pain in the top section of the foot. The pain might increase significantly and in relation to your level of physical activity. The pain might also occur due to lack of proper exercise techniques such as warm-ups.

Ganglion Cyst

A ganglion cyst develops on the under section of the skin surface and might appear as a bump filled with fluid. The cyst might also develop on top of the foot, and even after the injury occurs.

A ganglion cyst can lead to pain, especially if it leads to pressure on a joint or muscle close to the foot. Furthermore, the cyst might also lead to burning and tingling, mainly when it occurs close to a nerve. If the cyst is large, then it might even lead to issues such as discomfort or pain, especially as it rubs against the structure of the shoe. The removal of a cyst is done through aspiration or removal through a needle. Only in rare cases when the cysts get severe, would one require surgery.

Health Complications and Pain

In most cases, gout will affect the functionality of the big toe. That said, it can also compromise various other sections of the foot, thus leading to intense pain. Not all instances of foot pain relate to overuse or injury factors. Some complications associated with instep pain include:


The foot consists of 30 joints, which makes it prone to complication such as arthritis. The metatarsophalangeal joint (MCP) is a critical aspect of each toe and can lead to pain in the top section of the foot.


Diabetes is a complication that can lead to nerve damage, especially in the feet. If this is you, then you’re going to need to start looking for specialized footwear. Any type of uncontrolled diabetes can also cause issues like numbness and tingling in the foot.


Gout is a complication that leads to severe accumulation of uric acid in the joints. While gout affects the big toe, it can also affect various other sections of the foot and the rest of the body. Arch pain is a common sign associated with instep foot pain. Left unchecked, it might lead to chronic or long term complications. You must visit a medical health professional and start the treatment process in relation to your specific pain characteristics.


The feet are an important component of the body. It consists of many aspects including bones and muscles. Therefore, taking good care of your feet is vital for the quality of your life. Issues such as instep foot pain are easy to manage when you make informed decisions. The first step of addressing such as foot discomfort is to identify the cause of the pain, and apply the proper treatment method. Usually, proper rest and foot rehabilitation are sufficient for recovery. More importantly, preventing foot pain involves wearing proper footwear, correct exercise techniques, a suitable diet and more.

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Brian Bradshaw. I’m a super duper mega hiking enthusiast, with a love for everything that has to do with outdoors, hiking, gear, footwear and more.

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