The elliptical is usually touted as a lower-impact method of cardiovascular exercise. But if you have foot pain as you make those elliptical rotations, you might be at a loss. On the bright side, foot pain on the elliptical is usually preventable. Unless you have a foot injury, your posture and technique is probably the culprit for pain. Make a few adjustments, and you should be able to keep up your elliptical cardio sessions.
Check your shoes to ensure they fit properly and offer the best support for using the elliptical. In general, shoes that are too loose could cause your foot to slide forward and become crushed in the toe bow during the elliptical rotations. On the other hand, tight or unsupportive shoes can cause joint pain and muscle soreness. Look for a good, all-round cross trainer before you start using the elliptical regularly.
Skip the incline option on the elliptical machine menu. While doing an inclined workout might be more of a challenge, it can also cause more pressure on the arch and the heel of the foot, resulting in pain. Instead, go for a flat run and alternate slow with fast-paced usage to get a more challenging -- and less painful -- workout.
Maintain the proper posture and foot position while on the elliptical. Often pain is the result of pressure and weight being put on one area of the foot alone. In actuality, your weight should be evenly spread to all four corners of each foot. If you tend to be a toe walker on the elliptical, you might have the resistance turned up to high, resulting in the need to thrust your toes forward to engage a rotation. Turn down the resistance and spread your weight more evenly for less pain.
Take a break in between days that you use the elliptical. That doesn't mean you should skip a workout altogether, it simply means to choose other machines or methods that aren't so centered around the foot, such as swimming cycling on the recumbent bike. This gives your feet a time to recuperate before you hit the elliptical again.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor or podiatrist if the pain lingers or appeared suddenly. It could be the sign of a foot injury, such as a sprain or a fracture. It'll need rest, care and sometimes rehabilitation before you can use the elliptical again.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.