The Impact of Weight on Foot Health

Weight gain and foot pain often go hand in hand, as carrying extra weight puts additional strain on the feet and ankles.

In fact, just being one pound over your ideal weight can increase the pressure on your ankles by eight pounds. Simply climbing stairs or going up an incline can increase the pressure on your ankles by four to six times.

By reading below, you’ll discover the impact weight has on foot health and what you can do to relieve your pain.

Foot Problems Associated With Obesity

Excess weight can lead to Achilles tendonitis, bunions, hammertoes, or plantar fasciitis.

Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles tendon is a large band of tissue that connects the calf muscles at the lower back of the leg to the heel bone. When calf muscles contract, the Achilles tendon lifts the heel. You use this tendon when you walk, run, jump, climb stairs, and stand on your tiptoes.

Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury. While it’s often associated with an increase in sports activities, any increase in stress on the tendon can trigger symptoms.

You may feel pain in the heel or down the back of the leg. The tendon may also be stiff and sore in the morning. If you feel a snap, it’s likely a rupture.


A bunion is a deformity caused by an unstable joint in the middle of the foot and typically forms when continuous pressure on the big toe pushes it toward the second toe. Over time, an extra bone grows at the base of the big toe.

This can be a painful condition. You may also have limited movement of your big toe and swelling, redness, or soreness around the joint.


Hammertoes are changes in the toe joint that make the toe point up instead of lying flat. If left untreated, it can freeze in this curled shape. Severe cases can make the toe look as if it’s stuck in an upside-down V shape. While this deformity can affect any toe, it most often affects the second or third.

A hammertoe causes you discomfort when you walk. It can also cause you pain when you stretch or move the affected toe or those beside it.

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a thick, fibrous connective tissue that connects the heel to the toes. It acts as a shock absorber and supports the arch, helping you to walk. Too much pressure on the feet can damage or tear this tissue.

When the tissue becomes inflamed, it is known as plantar fasciitis. The most common symptoms are pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel.

If you ignore this condition, it can develop into chronic heel pain and affect the way you walk, which may lead to foot, knee, hip, or back problems.

Treating Weight-Related Foot Conditions

Protect your feet at home by following these steps.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight – According to the CDC, a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index) for adults is between 18.5 and 24.9. Incorporating a balanced diet and regular exercise is key to achieving gradual, sustainable weight loss. To reduce stress on your body, alternate high-impact activities, like running and jumping, with low-impact activities, like cycling and swimming.
  2. Stretch regularly – Improve your flexibility and strength with foot stretching exercises. Before your workout, it’s important to warm up your muscles by stretching. If you notice pain while working out, stop and rest.
  3. Wear supportive shoes – Choose shoes that have adequate cushioning for your heel and firm arch support. Replace worn-out shoes and invest in ones that have a wide toe box and soft soles.
  4. Wear custom orthotics – Place custom orthotics in shoes that are in good condition but aren’t supportive. Unlike store-bought insoles, which follow a one-size-fits-all approach to supporting your feet, custom orthotics are tailored to meet your exact needs.
  5. Apply ice – Reduce swelling or inflammation by placing a bag of ice wrapped in a cloth against your skin. Hold it there for up to 20 minutes, and then remove the bag to let your body warm up again.

    If home remedies don’t work, surgery may be considered. A podiatrist will decide which procedure is best for you.

    Explore Treatment Options at The Foot & Ankle Center

    When you experience continued discomfort in your feet or ankles, don’t think that it has to stay that way. The knowledgeable podiatrists at The Foot & Ankle Center have decades of experience in correcting conditions and injuries via advanced non-surgical and surgical options.

    We provide thorough evaluations and personalized treatment plans, offer safe and effective treatments that provide fast relief, and have same-day appointments available.

    Learn more about the best path for your podiatric health by requesting an appointment online or calling us at (314) 487-9300!