5 Simple Ways to Soothe Foot Pain

Nurses who are on their feet all day can use these quick pain relief tricks.

close up of nurses shoes walking

Medically reviewed in April 2021

One out of four adults will have some type of foot problem in their lifetime, and we imagine that professionals who are on their feet all day (hello, nurses!) are even more likely to have aching tootsies.

Spending a lot of time on your feet can cause major foot discomfort on a daily basis, and may even cause problems like plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, calluses or bunions down the road. No matter how comfortable the shoe, you still might have pain if you’ve been running around the hospital for 12-plus hours.   

Prep your tootsies for long hours on your feet, or give them some lovin’ after your shift with these tips.

Experiment with shoe inserts.
Shoe inserts help support the ball of your foot, and allow your toes to spread out wider in your shoe when wearing high heels, meaning less pain at the end of the day. Inserts are easy to get, too—almost any drugstore or mall has a slew of options. It’s best to consider the type of pain and the location of the pain before choosing shoe inserts:

  • Arch supports will support the foot’s natural arch, whether your have high or low arches.
  • Insoles slide into your shoe and offer cushion and support.
  • Heel pads, heel liners and heel cups support and cushion your heel.
  • Foot cushions prevent your shoes from rubbing against your heels, toes or sides of the foot.

Try orthotics.
If foot pain is plaguing you and over-the-counter inserts aren’t working, prescription orthotics may be a good fit. Orthotics are custom-made inserts that straighten irregular foot mechanics and help you move better. The devices match the contours of your feet and the way they move.

Your podiatrist will fit you for specific orthotics based on your condition and your level of pain. Functional orthotics correct abnormal structures or motion and can help ease injuries such as shin splints or tendinitis, while accommodative orthotics provide cushioning and support to help with things like foot ulcers or foot calluses. See your podiatrist if you’re experiencing extreme pain, and over-the-counter methods aren’t working.

Create the perfect foot bath.  
No matter what type of soreness you have, a relaxing foot bath after a hard day’s work can help ease your pain. Mix all ingredients together and stir the mixture into warm bath water. Let your feet soak for 10 to 15 minutes. 

Milk and Honey Foot Bath Recipe

  • 3 to 5 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup whole milk

Try your hand at massaging.
You may not be a masseuse, but giving your tootsies a foot rub is sure to help ease the pain. Here’s an easy massage recipe that will have your feet begging for more:

  • Step 1: Wash feet with warm soap and water.
  • Step 2: Apply a small amount of sesame or almond oil mixed with lavender essential oil.
  • Step 3: Start rubbing at the bases of your little toes. 
  • Step 4: Apply slight pressure on the flesh between your little toe and the next toe over.
  • Step 5: Now move to your middle toe.
  • Step 6: Massage, stretch and pull your middle toe in a circular motion, then do the same with your other toes.
  • Step 7: With your fingertips or the palms of your hands, gently apply pressure to both sides of your heel just below the ankle, and then rub around your ankle clockwise.
  • Step 8: Finally, knead and squeeze your calf muscle to release tension.
  • Step 9: Repeat on the second foot.

Exercise your tootsies
While it may be the last thing you want to do after a long day on your feet, you’ll be surprised at how much relief you’ll get from moving your feet around a bit. Here are a few exercises that will strengthen your feet and help relieve some of the pain.

  • Exercise 1: Roll a tennis ball under your foot from heel to toe and back again. Keep repeating for one minute on each foot.
  • Exercise 2: For a big-toe stretch, take a thick rubber band and place it on your two big toes, pull the toes away from each other and towards your other toes. Hold the pose for five seconds and repeat the move 10 times.
  • Exercise 3: Put your rubber band around the toes of each foot, spread your toes apart and hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 or more times.
  • Exercise 4: Place towel on floor, grip the towel between your toes and curl towards your body. Relax your grip, and repeat the exercise five times.
  • Exercise 5: When you’re at the beach, take every opportunity to walk in the sand—it’ll massage your feet and improve your toe strength.

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