The deal with hidden muscle pain
Sore and not sure why? Your pain may be rooted in problems with unsung and underlying muscles you’ve probably never heard of. “Minor muscles enable large muscles to do their job,” says Bryan Heiderscheit, PhD, PT, a professor of orthopedics & rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “When the small ones aren’t working properly, it can lead to injury or pain.” That means that rehabilitating those small muscles can lead to overall muscle pain relief. There’s no simple way to know yourself which muscle is responsible for your achiness; a physical therapist or doctor can evaluate form, pain (and use other diagnostics, like MRI, of course, to pinpoint an issue). But strengthening and stretching these minor-league muscles is a big part of a conservative approaches to pain management, so the following exercises will likely help. Here, some common aches and how to avoid them by giving these minor muscles some TLC.
The pain: bottom of foot
Discomfort on the bottom of your big toe could mean you’ve strained the flexor hallucis longus (the muscle that curls your big toe). How it happens: If you have weakness in your hips, it forces other parts of your body—including your foot—to help keep you balanced as you walk. “The big toes grabs the ground and keeps your foot from tipping over,” says Kevin Vincent, MD, PhD, medical director of the University of Florida department of orthopaedics and rehabilitation. Extra strain on the foot causes the flexor halluces longus to overwork and thus cause pain.
Prevent it: Strengthen the muscles in your foot, as well as in your hips, by doing lunges and squats barefoot or in minimally cushioned shoes. Shoes that are too supportive don’t let your foot muscles build up resilience; spending time barefoot can help strengthen them, Vincent says. Don’t miss these pain symptoms you should never ignore.