How to Soothe Your Inflamed, Aching Feet

By Brenna Thompson, MS, RD, LD
May 20, 2014

Desperate for less foot pain? Follow these steps for the next three weeks and see how much better you feel. Then keep reading for more information on keeping your feet healthy and happy for years to come. 

  1. Remove all sugar, processed carbohydrates and refined oils from your diet.
  2. Eat meals that consist of meat, vegetables and a good fat. Here's a sample menu to start. Turkey Breakfast Sausages and half a sweet potato with butter on it for breakfast. For lunch, eat Wild Rice Meatballs and a salad topped with olive oil. For dinner, have a Chicken Patty and steamed broccoli topped with butter. If these don't strike your fancy, any combination will do, just make sure you have a meat, vegetable and fat at every meal and snack. 
  3. Up your intake of omega-3. Eat more salmon and consider supplementing with a quality omega-3 product.

Podcast_Feet.jpgDid you know…each foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments? This means there is a lot of room for error and helps explain why 75% of adults have experienced foot pain such as Plantar Fasciitis or other painful conditions. Yet, only a very small percentage of people are actually born with abnormalities affecting their feet. With so many people experiencing foot pain, we have to wonder, did Mother Nature mess up when she designed our feet or is there something we are doing, wearing, or eating that is causing all this foot pain? 

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

The most common type of foot pain is Plantar Fasciitis (PF), where the plantar fascia ligament, which runs from the heel to the toes, becomes inflamed. Ligaments are similar to rubber bands, they stretch and contract. By attaching bones to bones, they limit the movements of joints and provide stabilization. The plantar fascia aids in the stabilization of the arch and helps support the weight of the body. PF accounts for 80% of the heel pain seen by physicians. It typically occurs as a result of overuse such as standing for long periods of time, high impact physical activities including running or jumping, and wearing the wrong shoes. 

Is Your Diet Causing Your Foot Pain?

Most people never make this connection, but truly what's at the end of your fork could directly be impacting your foot pain. It comes back to inflammation. For many, inflammation in the body manifests as foot pain.

To reduce inflammation, you have to help your body stop producing it. The two food groups that increase inflammation the most are sugar and refined oils. Sugar means the obvious sources such as candy, soda, sports drinks, cookies, ice cream and donuts. Not-so-obvious sources of sugar include bread, crackers, pasta, pretzels and potato chips. These foods are high in carbohydrates, meaning they will turn into sugar after being digested and spike your blood sugar. High blood sugars lead to high insulin levels which cause blood vessel constriction. Narrow blood vessels will not allow blood to flow well to injured body parts and inflammation will persist. Maybe you changed your running shoes, but you also need to change your post run hydration from sugary Gatorade to water.

In addition to sugar, oils made from corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed are inflammatory in your body. They contain the inflammatory omega-6 fat, arachidonic acid. Oils from these sources are heavily refined and therefore damaged. When you consume these oils they send a signal in your body to produce prostaglandins.

These chemical messengers send signals within the cell to respond with typical inflammatory responses such as swelling, pain and increased temperature. When you stop eating damaged oils, your body stops producing as many inflammatory prostaglandins. Unfortunately, food manufacturers like to use refined oils because they are cheap and extend the shelf life of products. Even so called “healthy” foods often use these fats. Look for them in the ingredient list on salad dressings, whole grain breads, roasted nuts and protein bars.

Anti-Inflammatory Fats Your Feet Will Love

stirfry_vegetables.jpgCutting out the processed carbohydrates and refined oils is the first step toward pain-free feet. The next step is to fill your plate with colorful vegetable carbohydrates and 1-2 tablespoons of healing fats every time you eat. Fats nourish your tissues, even the tendons and ligaments in your feet. Two amazing and flavorful saturated fats are butter and coconut oil. Just think of them as saturating your tissues with moisture.

Many people know that fish oil is anti-inflammatory and that salmon is high in the omega-3 fat EPA, which has been shown to help reduce pain and inflammation.  Wondering how to get more salmon in your diet?

  • Breakfast: Try eating Salmon Salad Supreme—it’s a great way to start your day; and one batch will give you enough for two meals.
  • For an easy grab-n-go lunch, make and freeze some Salmon Cakes. All you have to do is thaw one out and pair it with fresh or frozen vegetables for a delicious meal.
  • A healthy snack: You could whip up some Salmon Deviled Eggs to bring to your next book club meeting or to have as a mid-afternoon snack.

Not a fish eater? Supplemental EPA can be taken in the form of fish oil.

Most people need 3000-6000mg of fish oil per day to reduce their inflammation. Our Nutrikey omega-3 is a great choice since it has been filtered to remove mercury and contains only fish oil—unlike other brands which sometimes dilute their products with inflammatory soybean oil.

Other things to consider

Along with eating an anti-inflammatory diet people can treat acute cases of Plantar Fasciitis by sitting down and elevating their feet, icing the affected area, massaging the foot, and wearing a special brace at night to help stretch the plantar ligament.


For more information on the topic of foot health, listen to our podcast: Oh My Aching Feet (Plantar Fasciitis and Neuropathy).

Want to learn more? Take a class! Weight & Wellness Class Series or Foods to Reduce Pain and Inflammation can both help your aching feet. 


About the author

Brenna loves nutrition and its life-changing effects. With an active lifestyle, she knows firsthand how to use the power of good nutrition to stay energized. She is a registered dietitian and licensed dietitian through the Minnesota Board of Dietetics and Nutrition. She received her B.S. in dietetics from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and completed her dietetic internship at West Virginia University Hospital, Morgantown. Brenna also received a M.S. in applied nutrition, with an emphasis on education, from Northeastern University. She worked as a clinical and wellness dietitian for the Phoebe Putney Memorial Health System in Albany, Georgia.

View all posts by Brenna Thompson, MS, RD, LD


I love ur post because i hv lots of pain in morning time n night time infoamation.i hv planter facilities heak spur , neuroma, small tendinities.
March 16, 2017 at 6:29 pm

Bev Thomson
Really? Mayo in the recipes? Not good.
August 15, 2017 at 9:56 pm


Yes, mayo! It's a great source of fat which is crucial for your brain and body. Of course, be wary of what kind of mayo you get, many are loaded with sugar and contain all fake ingredients. We like this brand.

Interesting article
February 3, 2019 at 1:19 pm

Danny Mina
am suffering from foot pain since i got diabetes type-2 and that is more than 4 years now. My sugar level improves, but my foot pain is still there. what is the cause, and how to remedy this.
May 25, 2019 at 10:43 pm


We suspect the continued foot pain, despite improved blood glucose numbers, is due to continuing to consume high-sugar foods, (hidden sugars we call them) or foods you are sensitive to, but unaware of. It could also be nerve damage (neuropathy) in the foot that occurred prior to the improved blood sugar control. We'd highly recommend a nutrition consultation (by phone, Skype or in person) to better explain hwo to avoid hidden sugars and figure out if you have any food sensitivities,

I found out by accident when I went to a potato diet that it made my plantar fascitiis stop. So when I have a flare up I will eat a breakfast of sliced red potatoes cooked in a little olive oil, lunch of homemade potato soup w carrots celery onion made with light canned coconut milk (no dairy), and dinner with meat, veggie, and baked potato. The pain I had felt for weeks suddenly disappeared. I am not sure why but it seems to work for m.
October 19, 2020 at 10:42 pm


Glad that you are feeling better! After checking with our nutritionists they tend to think it doesn't have to do with the potatoes but that during that period you probably also cut out a good that was causing you inflammation. We'd suggest a virtual (via Zoom or phone) appointment with one of our nutritionists to pin point what foods are causing you pain and inflammation. Find more information here, 

Zoe Campos
Thanks for your tip about eating more salmon and adding sources of omega-3 in my diet that can possibly help with the pain I'm feeling. My foot pain's been around for a while now and even though I tried spending the entire day yesterday in bed, it still ached in the evening. I'll observe it for a few days and follow your advice before visiting the doctor's office.
November 2, 2020 at 9:21 am

Gareth Morgan
“Most people don’t connect foot pain with diet”
How true, years of so called professional help including MRI scans and Physiotherapy didn’t help at all. Then, in 2019, I became acutely dairy intolerant. After cutting out various things from my diet, over two years, I managed to pinpoint my intolerance to cows milk and anything containing even a slight trace of it.
I still occasionally slip up but I soon find out.
Now I don’t get foot pain, such a relief after so many years of agony.
Today I thought I’d Google this, who knew, it seems that it’s a thing!!!
Not one so called expert even mentioned possible dietary cause.
I can tell you first hand, it is a thing, and a serious thing at that!
So this is me showing my support for your post, absolutely brilliant!
May 13, 2021 at 1:46 am


Thank you for reaching out! We're so glad you were able to find relief.

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