Heel Pain is one of the most common injuries in runners; particularly new runners. It is particularly troublesome as it can make simple life tasks such as walking and standing painful, so it’s important to understand why the pain occurs and what you can do about it.
What Causes Heel Pain?
Most heel pain is caused by an inflammation of the plantar fascia (connective tissue) of the foot which is also known as plantar fasciitis. Although there are several other reasons for heel pain, this is the most common cause seen; particularly in runners. This condition occurs when the arch of the foot is subject to repetitive stress and the supporting structure (the plantar fascia) under the foot starts to become inflamed. Due to the fact that the fascia connects from the base of all five toes to the heel, but at only 2 points under the heel; so naturally the heel is first to get stressed.
The sort of stresses that can lead to heel pain are:
- Excessive pronation of the foot
- Exercising too heavily when overweight
- Running in old or unsuitable running shoes or trainers
The other possible reasons for heel pain could be achilles tendonitis or bruising of the heel; however it is always better to seek help from a health care professional if you have heel pain.
What can I do to Avoid Heel Pain?
Luckily there are several steps you can take to avoid heel pain:
- The most important thing is to make sure your foot is correctly supported. This means having professionally fitted footwear and possibly insoles or orthotics if you need them.
- Ensure you stretch regularly, particularly your calves, as these connect via the achilles into the heel and can contribute to potential heel pain when tight.
- Be very careful introducing new training if you are overweight, as your foot will be under a lot more stress than you will realise. So take things steady and if you feel your heels aching then back off and rest straight away.
- Renew your running shoes regularly, our article on how long running shoes last will give you all the info on when to replace your shoes and how long they last.
How to treat heel pain
If you already have pain in your heel, then there are a few steps you can take to reduce the pain and hopefully speed up your recovery:
- Cease all exercise where you may put impact through your feet, i.e. running/jumping/walking. The heel (plantar fascia in particular) takes a lot of time to heal, so eliminating impact as much as possible will really help.
- If your heels are particularly sensitive early in the morning then place your running shoes by your bed and put them on your feet as soon as you wake up. This will ensure that your feet are well supported from the moment you wake up.
- If you are having difficulty walking, due to acute pain then you should visit a doctor who will be able to prescribe pain relief and possibly a steroid injection, which can reduce pain and increase healing.
- You should seek the opinion of a podiatrist if the pain has been ongoing for more than 2 weeks as it’s likely to be a biomechanical problem that could be treated with orthotics.
So this is our best advice for those suffering from heel pain; however we are not medical professionals and so if in doubt about the sort of pain you are experiencing then seek the opinion of a medical professional.
You could also try our custom fitted insoles to help relieve pain and discomfort. They come with a 60 day guarantee, so in the event the discomfort continues, you can bring them back for a full refund!
Have you suffered from heel pain and have any other advice for our readers? Why not share your comments below?