Hot flashes, poor sleep, wonky periods that lead to no periods, OK, we’re prepared for all of that.

But sore feet? No one told us sore feet might be a result of menopause.

If you have sore feet, it may not be entirely due to reduced estrogen, but menopause can certainly play a role. Let’s talk about why your feet hurt and what you can do about it.

What causes foot pain in perimenopause and menopause?

Menopause, with its decline in estrogen, can have a direct affect on your feet.

Collagen loss is part of the problem. According to Foundation Podiatry, less estrogen affects collagen production: “Collagen is basically the building block of our musculoskeletal system - bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and skin. Less collagen synthesis means less elasticity of tendons and skin, constriction of blood vessels, decreased healing, increased risk of developing a soft tissue injury and joint pain.”

Osteopenia and osteoporosis may also play a role. Says Harvard Women’s Health Watch, “A loss of estrogen after menopause may lead to lower bone density in the feet and consequently a higher risk of stress fractures in the foot.”

Plantar fasciitis (heel pain that is worst in the morning) is also common among women in midlife as loss of estrogen affects the elasticity of the thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes.

Other changes not directly due to estrogen loss can also factor into foot pain: changes in posture due to other injuries or pregnancies, weight gain, compensation for muscle loss or poor balance can affect how we walk or stand and result in pain. Estrogen protects our soft tissues; the loss of it makes soft tissue more vulnerable to injury, inflammation, and pain.

Fixing your feet

Low estrogen, osteoporosis, pregnancy posture – is there any way to fix those things? There are, and we strongly suggest talking with a doc or physical therapist about all of these, for your general well-being as well as for your feet.

Here are some things you can do:

  1. Get more collagen. Your body makes collagen your whole life, but as we age, that production slows, particularly for women in perimenopause and menopause. Fortunately, you can replace some by eating right. The Cleveland Clinic suggests eating a combination of protein-rich foods and foods that contain vitamin C, zinc, and copper — your body creates collagen by combining amino acids, so you can help the process along by making sure all the ingredients are present. If bone broth isn’t your thing, there are supplements available.
  2. Manage weight. Reducing weight reduces the impact on your feet, but additionally, since many women gain weight quickly in perimenopause and menopause, that gain can cause women to modify their posture and gait, which can also lead to foot problems.
  3. Get out of high heels. Or at the very least, be sure your heels are modified with inserts, foot beds or other cushions. Try to limit the standing and walking you do in heels by bringing along flats or athletic shoes for when you’re up and about.
  4. Stretch, tape, and ice your feet. Once you have a diagnosis of what’s actually happening in your feet, some gentle stretches, kinesiology tape, and ice can help manage pain.
  5. Lace your shoes properly. It sounds ridiculously simple, but for some women, simply lacing shoes differently to avoid pain points is really effective. Shoes come pre-laced from the shop, but like pretty much everything else, our feet are quite unique to us. Harvard Health gives examples for better lacing.
  6. Supplements may help. Before opting for surgery or cortisone injections, you might try switching up your diet. According to com, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C could be helpful, among other nutritional supplements.
  7. Medical interventions. These can include wearing a boot to sleep in that keeps your foot in the proper position, steroid shots to reduce pain, shock-wave therapy to stimulate blood flow, a Tenex procedure to remove scar tissue, and generally as a last resort, surgery.

If you’re an active woman in menopause, don’t let foot pain stop you from staying active, especially as doing less won’t necessarily make your feet hurt less, but it can have a lot of other negative affects on your body and psyche.

If your feet hurt, talk to a doctor and get a referral to a podiatrist or physical therapist who can help you identify what’s going on and get your feet back under you.

Have you dealt or are you dealing with heel and foot pain? What are you doing to manage the pain and stay active? We’d love to know, so please share below in the comments or on our forums. A note about comments: all blog comments are moderated, so your comment may not appear right away.


Shannon Perry

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