8 Clubfoot Pain Relief Strategies

Greg Thurston - January 6, 2021 
club foot pain adults
Over the past years, I’ve made good progress with reducing my clubfoot pain.

In this post I’ll explain what helps me when pain flares up.

Everyone with a clubfoot has a different situation, and different levels of difficulty. I’ve had times when I couldn’t walk for a week because of the pain, and times when I could do almost any physical activity.

Whatever your situation, I hope something here can help you.

Note: This post focuses only on what I do when pain flares up. You might also like these posts... 

My Best Club Foot Exercises and Stretches
The specific exercises I do. All taught to me by medical practitioners.

Tips For Living With Clubfoot
A broader post. Everything that helps me prevent pain, improve mobility, and generally boost wellbeing.

Here we go...

1. Gentle Ankle Stretch Exercises

I have a few core clubfoot exercises that are fantastic to reduce ankle pain when it flares up. These also help to increase my range of movement, and as a preventative measure.

These were given by physiotherapists, chiropractors, and other specialists over the years.

2. Massage Clubfoot and Leg Muscles

Buy or make a good massage ointment that contains arnica, and give yourself a gentle massage.

Massage the tops of the feet, Achilles, ankle, calf muscle, and anywhere else that is sore.

Massage the bottom of your feet too… even if they’re not sore!

I used Vicks VapourRub occasionally before I started making my own. Vicks gives a crazy sensation, and amazing short term relief. It doesn’t contain arnica, but it has camphor and menthol, which help.

I used to get a deep tissue massage every 2 weeks – mainly because I have a shorter leg and that wreaks havoc with my back and neck. But we also focused on my foot and ankle, and it made a huge improvement.

3. Foot Scrub and Soak

Scrub your feet with a pumice or something similar. You can get pumices to use in the shower, or use a dry pumice (the Body Shop has good ones).

Buy a foot-sized container (a big Tupperware is good), and soak your clubfoot.

I like to use warm water and epsom salt, with a few drops of Tea Tree oil and a few drops of Arnica oil... Or add whatever essential oils you prefer.

More pain relief essential oils here.
ADD LATER write essential oils article and link to it.
Soak your feet for 20 minutes while you read or watch TV.

For me, this is such a simple thing that changed my life. Some days it doesn't help much, but some days it hits the spot. And it generally helps me have an amazing sleep afterwards.

Warm baths are great too!

4. Icing

Going the opposite way, sometimes cold is better than hot.

I keep a gel ice pack in the freezer, and have a dedicated pillow case which I wash between uses. Put the gel pack inside the pillow case, and ice your club foot for 10 minutes or so.

For me, this is especially good after a long walk… that’s when my clubfoot pain really kicks off and can become devastating.

My chiropractor told me the ideal time is 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, repeating if needed.

This is also great if you have other pains, e.g lower back.

5. Compression Socks

Compression socks are great to sleep in when ankle pain flares up.

I occasionally use them when going for a walk, and it helps sometimes. But sleeping with the compression sock works best.

6. Yoga and Club Foot

The main benefit of yoga for me is to alleviate my back and hip pain, but it also helps with my club foot problems.

Some positions help to get the foot muscles moving, and some help to build strength.

Poses where you stand on one foot are great. It’s a challenge, and I often sway and fall over in class, but it’s ok. There’s nothing better than managing to balance on my right foot for a whole 2 minutes.

If you can’t balance on one foot, that’s ok too. Many other yoga poses positively impact the feet and supporting muscles... Even a simple standing Mountain Pose (Tadasana).

As well as going to classes, I’ve developed my own home-routines.

With yoga, I can really feel the muscles in my feet working. I feel that it has massively benefitted my range of movement, circulation, and inflammation.

Club foot pain in later life is something that plays on my mind a lot. Multiple medical practitioners have told me that yoga will help me reduce arthritis pain in my clubfoot into the future. Makes sense really.

I think the core principle is to keep moving as much as possible.

7. Walking and Stretching in a Swimming Pool

I recently moved to a hilly suburb in Barcelona. And while it’s very nice and interesting, my club foot pain flared up from walking on hills every day.

It felt like all the progress I’d made over the years went out the window. I had constant ankle pain, and eventually I didn’t leave the house unless I had to.

Then luckily, I found a gym with a beautiful ‘hydro-massage’ pool – a pool with warm salt water.

So I started walking lengths of the pool, and stretching whatever way my body needed.

And it was amazing!

Being in a warm pool takes the pressure of your joints, so you can move more freely… plus it’s great to soak your muscles.

8. Meditation – focusing on muscles and joints

I do this as a whole body meditation, but you can focus solely on your feet if you like.

Lie down, listening to calming music. Take a few slow and deep breathes. Feel your lungs and belly expand and contract.

Shift your focus to your toes, going through each toe and noticing any sensation.

Start to imagine the individual muscles expanding as you breathe in, and relaxing as you breath out... Like a balloon.

Move your focus under the foot – imagining the muscles expand and relax...

Then come to the top of the foot, and up into the ankle joint…

Then to your Achilles and the sides of your ankle…

Then up your calf, to your knee, to your thighs, and continue up.

Meditation has been a super valuable piece of the puzzle for me. It’s helped me to release some of my body pain, and with the emotional struggles that come with problems like clubfoot.

You can read my pain and meditation story here.

Hopefully something here helps with your clubfoot pain!

These have given enormous relief for my pain, and helped to improve my ankle mobility and strength.

If any of them helped you, please let me know in the comments, or share your own story!

Summary: Club Foot Pain Relief Strategies

  1. Gentle ankle stretches.

  2. Massage.

  3. Foot scrub and soak.

  4. Icing.

  5. Compression socks.

  6. Yoga.

  7. Walking and stretching in a swimming pool.

  8. Meditation.

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4 comments on “8 Clubfoot Pain Relief Strategies”

  1. Hi Greg. I’ve just stumbled across this website and couldn’t be more glad that I did. I’m a 29 year old man with Clubfoot in my left foot (I think the opposite to you). After having relatively few problems all my life, I’ve recently started suffering a lot mores and think I need to increase the preventative exercises etc to help build the strength back up. I found this website when looking for useful exercises. Are you based in the UK? I’d love to discuss all of this with you more.

  2. My grandson was born with a clubfoot. He was caster and braced until he was 3. He had done well, but over the last 6 years his foot has begun to bend inward slightly so he wears down the outside of his shoe heel. He is 9 now and playing soccer which is causing discomfort. We are searching for help without surgery if possible. My Internet search found your exercises. I'm sharing them with his mom.

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