Exercises for Weight Loss When Challenged with Foot Pain

by | Aug 14, 2010 | Exercise and Fitness, Foot Care & Foot Fitness | 5 comments

I received a great question in my in-box this week about exercise for weight loss when you have foot pain.  I am sure that there are other people out there with similar issues, so I thought I’d share my reply!

Here’s the Question:

I’ve had foot pain since I was a teenager, so in my weight loss journey I’ve had to do everything so far without exercise.  While I’ve had great success, I’ve gained back a little of the weight.  Now trying to get back on track.  Are there any exercises, low key, that I can do to aid me in reaching my goals that won’t hold me back because of my foot pain?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Advice from Aliesa:

Thanks for your questions and congratulations on your weight loss success!  And it’s great to know that you’re actively looking for things you can do that will keep you healthy, active,  fit, and safe with a foot problem.  I’ve had several  clients over the years who have had major foot problems, and have still managed to stay consistent with a Pilates exercise program.

There are lots of things you can do, but since each of us is a unique individual, and we all respond differently to different things, it may take a bit of experimenting to find the best exercises and develop an great wellness program for you.

I strongly recommend finding someone in your local area who can help teach you safe and appropriate exercises and help you design and develop a fitness routine that fits your lifestyle, meets your goals, and takes any health challenges into consideration. Whether it’s a Physical Therapist, Personal Trainer, or Pilates Teacher…  having an expert to help guide you can make a huge difference in knowing what to do, how to do it, and helping to keep you motivated to stick with your program and get results.

If you don’t have the financial resources to do weekly training sessions with a trainer – it will still be worth the investment to find someone to get you started, develop and teach you a program to get going, then turn you loose to work out on your own.   Then, I’d encourage you,  once or twice a month,  to schedule a check-up to evaluate your progress and tweak your program.

With foot pain, there are actually lots of exercises you can do and stay off your feet!

Pilates is excellent for this, since it’s  a total body workout that combines strength and flexibility. Pilates Matwork keeps you moving and off your feet.  On the Pilates equipment – Reformer, Cadillac, Chairs, and Barrels, there are hundreds of exercises that you can do against spring resistance that keep you off your feet.  A bonus here is that by working the Pilates system and helping to strengthen some of the imbalances that have been created over time because your feet hurt – there’s a chance that in time you may actually reduce your foot pain because the rest of your body is moving better!

While swimming isn’t necessarily looked at as a “weight-loss” cardio activity, if your feet hurt and weight-bearing activities like walking or running are out, this can be a good alternative. Plus – it’s a whole-body activity – so you get bonus points for coordinating breathing, with upper and lower body movement!

Other good exercise choices include:  Weight training, dumbbells, resistance bands, sit-ups, push-ups… there are so many options.

A well-balanced workout should include at least one exercise for each direction that the joints of the body move:

  • Chest
  • Upper Back
  • Lower Back
  • Shoulders
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Abdominal (curling forward)
  • Abdominals ( twisting)
  • Outer Thighs
  • Inner Thighs
  • Back of Hips/Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Calves
  • Feet/Ankles

The list above contains 15 muscle “movement” groups.  While some of these have multiple muscles and you could do dozens of different exercises…  If you just picked one exercise that you can do safely, for each group – 8-12 repetitions, 1-2 sets, you would have a great workout that might take you 30 minutes-1 hour.

All of these are general guidelines – without seeing you I can’t give you anything specific, but I hope this inspires you to find someone locally who can help you pick the best exercises to get you started.  And while I know you have foot pain – I’m a firm believer that there are probably some safe and appropriate foot/ankle exercises that you may be able to do also, perhaps not to start – but in time…  Most of the exercises in my book Fantastic Feet are non-weight bearing, and over time they progress to standing exercises.  Would need to know more about your foot issues and see your feet to be able to tell you if the Fantastic Feet exercises might be a good choice for you!

Best of luck!  Keep me posted on your progress.


Can you relate to the challenge of exercising with foot pain?  Share a comment and let folks know what’s worked for you!

Aliesa George: Over the past three decades, Aliesa George has helped assist people with their personal health journeys by sharing, teaching, and developing Pilates, Foot Fitness, and other Mind-Body programs.


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