Simple Balance Ball Core Exercise And Thoughts On Exercising With Foot Osteoarthritis


Good advice, but what about arthritis (osteo) in the feet? That can make it pretty uncomfortable to walk; do you think any of your recommendations would help?” From Pauline in response to my recent blog post for Seniors.

Hi folks,

Before talking about my thoughts on training as a runner with osteoarthritis of the feet, I just wanted to share a brief video, prepared by Rebecca, my esteemed Continuum teacher, showing yours truly being guided through a simple core exercise using the balance ball. It is harder than it looks, but it really engages your core. Rebecca said that I “Did OK! [Kinda OK was embedded in her tone!].” Give it a try!

Thoughts on training with osteoarthritis of the feet (for Pauline):

gin-soaked raisins for arthritis

Try gin-soaked raisins for arthritis pain? Click on figure for more information. You never know, it just might work!

If you can’t work through a problem you have to work around it! This must certainly be true of painful osteoarthritis of the feet in runners. My approach to the issue would be to first attempt to establish whether my actions (e.g. poor shoe choice or imperfect biomechanics) had contributed to the problem in the first place, and then try to fix it with rest, ice and appropriate anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin (taking care not to induce tinnitus, whilst avoiding excessive bleeding if on fish oil tablets), and, of course, working to modify the offending behavior. If I found myself stuck with a chronic joint osteoarthritis in my feet, through no fault of my own, such as that in three of my fingers on my left hand, I would attempt to reduce joint swelling by encouraging joint fluid flow to remove excess cytokines and the like by careful lateral massaging of the affected joints. This approach was demonstrated by my friend Rory in a previous blog post, and it certainly helps my fingers. I would also consider alternative medicines by searching The People’s Pharmacy website.

Osteoarthritis feet, reflexology,

Reflexology really feels good, and what feels good is probably partly good, so I would try alternative approaches, even acupuncture, for painful osteoarthritic feet.

Another approach worth considering is reflexology and possibly acupuncture, in the hope of curing or alleviating the condition. Reflexology feels so good, one could at least enjoy it as a treat even if it doesn’t help the foot pain.

Training as a runner with osteoarthritis is quite a challenge, but by hook or by crook I would work to solve the problem as I love to run. The key would be to run on the sore joints as little as possible, whilst conditioning all the muscle systems that I would need for long runs or races. Tricky!!! I would start with the most boring exercise of all, which becomes less and less boring as your skills and mental endurance improve, the dreaded water running. Once I was ready to run on a running machine (first), followed by trails (second), then a soft track (third) and finally asphalt (last of all, and never concrete), I would use water running for the last half to one third of each long run. This approach reduces strain on the body, especially the feet, whilst generating all the conditioning benefits of a long run – this was not my idea, I got it from that great running book by Earl W. Fee.

Furthermore, my plan would include consideration of footwear, with the hope of finding a shoe or shoe-insert design that reduces unnecessary pressure on my swollen joints. I would also attempt to use an elliptical trainer, as these devices mimic running whilst eliminating impact.

Finally, I would explore my biomechanics through the application of Feldenkrais and Continuum, to develop an optimal low impact running style, and I would certainly purchase a pair of Yoga Toes to wake up my feet. Long walks I would not do, unless I could find a way to undertake them in a pain-free manner.

This should keep you busy for a while, Pauline, and please let me know if any of it helps. I know that there is a way to undertake safe exercise for better health with osteoarthritis of the feet, and I am equally sure that patience and careful experimentation will be needed.

See you at the 2012 New York City Marathon with the Heartosaurus Team, where I am sure that you will leave me far behind.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Pauline Watson says

    Thanks; this is wonderful information; you have provided some new approaches to try. I ran 15 miles (track) on Sunday, and my foot was getting sore towards the end. But, if I can run 15 miles on it, it can’t be too bad, eh? Hopefully your advice will get me through the last 11 miles in the NYC marathon. One thing I have had great success with is athletic taping – shown to me by an athletic trainer. But eventually the foot muscles have to do their job as well, I can’t keep relying on tape.

    My next question is regarding recovery requirements for older athletes; I find I am pretty wiped after a few days of long runs plus cross training. (15 miles Sunday, Monday – 45 min swim/2 h bike, Tuesday – crash). Its probably a “listen to your body” answer, but I think we older folks do in general need more recovery time.

    • Hi Pauline,

      I hope that you enjoy the gin-soaked raisins! I had another thought, which was to change your gait as your feet get sore to land more towards your heals, but avoid impact stress as you do so. Have you explored Chi or Pose running? Sounds as though you’re ahead of me on the running right now, anyway, because I’m still sorting out a tight calf muscle. There’s always something.

      There is absolutely no doubt that you need more recovery time with age. Even the great Joel Friel admits this on his blog. Yep, it’s a listen to your body thing, as we are all different AND we perform differently on different days. One approach is to monitor your resting heart rate each morning – if it is more than 5 beats high you are probably sick or over training.



  2. Found this, looking for help with foot problem after AAA stent Which is not sure to me what it is but certainly no oa. Could be low circulation effects or neuro pathy. But the reason I react is ny friend has ia in her hands and she has a lot of comfort drinking Joint Juice. Liittle bottles in a big 18 piece pack she buys at Sam’s . She gets one bottle aday. Worth a try.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.