A Vicious Cycle_ Pain vs. Weight

September 4, 2013
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Last year, Nigella Lawson was the topic of conversation as the public saw her drop a good amount of weight in a short time.  Was it an extreme diet?  Was it an obsessive workout schedule?  Rumors circulated for almost a year until Lawson spoke at the Vogue Festival in London.  She told the crowd, “I have indeed lost weight. Almost a year ago, I had a very glamorous operation – a double bunionisation.”


Lawson is talking about a bunionectomy, which is a surgical procedure to correct a bunion deformity.  What is a bunion?  According to the APMA website, “A bunion is a “bump” on the joint at the base of the big toe—the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint—that forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. The toe is forced to bend toward the others, causing an often-painful lump of bone on the foot. Because this joint carries a lot of the body’s weight while walking, bunions can cause extreme pain if left untreated.”


It makes sense that if you are overweight, your feet have more work to do.  More weight on the feet can cause or magnify many painful conditions such as joint pain, bunion deformities, increased risk of more severe ankle injuries, and can even change the way you walk by compensating for the extra weight.


Herein lies the problem.  Increased weight and painful feet can go hand in hand, and lead to a vicious cycle.  If you are overweight, your feet and ankles will begin to hurt.  If your feet hurt, how are you supposed to exercise to lose weight?  The key is to find activities that go easy on your feet.  Below is a list of a few of the exercises that can be done that are great for people with foot and ankle pain.


  • Row with an upper body ergometer (the arm bicycle)
  • Swimming
  • Ride a recumbent bike (rather than up and down, these bikes use an out and down motion)
  • Ride a stationary bike
  • Walk in a pool
  • Use the elliptical
  • Pilates


As you exercise, you will begin to notice you have more energy, you will feel better, and slowly over time you may begin to lose weight and notice a decrease in the pain in your feet and ankles.


It is important to find out what is specifically causing your foot pain, and what type of exercise works best for you and your situation.  Set up an appointment with Dr. Kraus at our Brainerd Road office in Chattanooga, TN to take the first steps in breaking the weight/foot pain cycle.


By Aaron Solomon


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