It’s difficult to lose weight when your feet hurt—but excess weight can cause foot pain.  So what do you do when foot pain is preventing you from exercising and ultimately losing weight.

Being overweight or obese changes the way the foot functions. Force on the foot increases dramatically when you carry extra weight. Steps are shorter, the feet angle out more and flattening of the foot is increased significantly. Multiple studies have shown greater incidences of plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, arthritis, ball-of-foot pain, fractures and sprains affecting the feet and ankles in patients who are overweight 1- 4.

Foot Orthotics for Persons Carrying Extra Weight

Foot orthotics can minimize abnormal force on the feet and are often used to treat and prevent foot problems in those carrying excess weight and / or trying to lose weight. A relatively firm and controlling foot orthotic is necessary to support the greater forces caused by carrying extra weight. In addition, the orthotic must provide shock absorption to decrease the excessive stress on the joints and help prevent arthritis. Finally, the orthotic must be extremely comfortable. Our doctors are experts in ensuring that orthotics provide adequate support and are 100% comfortable. In fact, comfort is guaranteed.

weight loss feet

Figure 1: Note how closely orthotic matches contour of foot.

One of the most important factors in getting the best outcome is to ensure that orthotics conform very closely to the arch of the foot. This is demonstrated in the picture below. Note how the arch of the orthotic perfectly matches the arch of the foot. Unfortunately, many orthotics are made that do not match the arch very well and thus are not very effective at providing adequate support.

Also, although we use many prefabricated orthotics in our practice, people carrying excessive weight are more likely to need custom orthotics for best pain relief. Prefabricated orthotics simply do not provide enough support to provide adequate relief of pain. If you cannot come into our Seattle office for an evaluation and want to provide your feet with some support right away, you can try a pair prefabricated arch supports such as PowerStep Arch Supports.

Other treatments include:

If you are starting a weight loss program, we also recommend that you talk to:

  • Your primary care physician
  • A registered dietician
  • A personal trainer or physical therapist to work on an exercise regimen

The health benefits realized with reduction of foot pain can be tremendous. But when you combine excess weight with the increased stress of a new exercise program, the feet can take a beating. While watching NBC’s Biggest Loser program, we have often wondered if they have a podiatrist on staff – otherwise intense exercise like that is bound to cause some foot problems.

Reducing foot and leg pain can help you exercise in comfort. This, of course, can help you lose weight safely and improve your overall health. We also work with Seattle and Puget Sound weight-loss facilities to offer a whole body approach to weight loss.

At the Foot and Ankle Center, we are dedicated to providing clinically-effective and cost-effective treatments that allow people to walk without pain.  Make an appointment today in our Seattle office to discuss how we can help you with your weight-loss goals.

  1.  Sadat-Ali M. Plantar fascitis/calcaneal spur among security forces personnel. Mil Med 1998; 163(1):56-57.
  2. Dowling,et. al; Does obesity influence foot structure and plantar pressure patterns in prepubescent children?; 2001; Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord
  3. Hills,; Plantar pressure differences between obese and non-obese adults: a biomechanical analysis; Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001
  4. Fabris, et. al. Computerized baropodometry in obese patients; Obes Surg. 2006
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