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Heel pain is a common condition that we enjoy helping you with, so that you can get back to the activities that you enjoy! In this article, we will share some simple techniques you can use for initial management at home.

Heel pain is a broad term that is used to loosely describe pain in the heel region, typically experienced during activities like standing, walking and taking your first step out of bed in the morning or after sitting for sometime. Pain is generally present in the heel or arch area. Often, pain is worsened at the end of a long day on your feet.

The heel has several different structures and pain can mean any of these structures have been overused, inflamed and injured. Some of the common heel conditions are: plantar fasciitis, plantar fasciia tear, plantar fibroma, Achilles tendinopathy, Baxters nerve entrapment, calcaneal stress fracture, Abductor hallucis tendinopathy, and fat pad contusion.

If you are having trouble with heel pain, try these following tips and see if it settles. Be consistent with these initial management techniques at home over the first 2-3 weeks to help the pain settle.

Heel pain can be frustrating!

Differentiate the type of pain

In general, injury to the soft tissue would result in pain that is more significant at the start of activity but settles as the activity progresses and warming up e.g first step pain in the morning that gets better after some walking.

On the other hand, injury to the bone would result in pain that gets worse with activity and loading. Crucially, pain may also be experienced at night in bed at rest. Bone injuries are more severe. If you suspect that you have sustained one, you should visit a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

Activity level

Reduce your level of activity to take the load off your heel. However, it is also important to keep active with exercise to maintain your base of activity. For example, instead of walking/ running daily like before, try walking/running every second day while also reducing the distance and intensity. Other great ways to keep active and not increase load on your heel would be swimming, cycling, and upper body workouts.

Self-mobilisation

To reduce tightness in the small muscles in your feet, use a tennis or golf ball to gently roll under arch and heel areas for 2-3 minutes, twice a day. However, it is important that you avoid compressing the painful area on your heel as that may worsen your condition.

Calf stretch and foam roller

Reduce tightness in your calf muscle that connects to your heel bone by performing a calf stretch for 1-2 minutes and/or foam rolling your calves for 5-10 minutes once daily (Figure 1). Similarly, avoid compressing on areas that are painful as that may worsen your condition.

Fig 1. Calf foam rolling. This helps to relieve tension in your calves, which helps with your heel pain. Do this 5-10 mins daily.

Heel raise exercises

Rise onto your tip-toes and hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat for a total of 90 seconds (Figure 2). You can fit it easily into your daily schedule by performing it when you brush your teeth.

Fig 2. Tip-toe exercises; hold for 10-15 secs and repeat for about 90 secs. Do this once a day.

Wear cushioned and supportive footwear both in and outdoors

Footwear that is cushioned and supportive will help to create an environment for healing by offloading the injured tissues. While indoors, use a contoured slipper to provide further offloading instead of going barefoot.

Icing and pain medication (as prescribed by your GP)

This can help to reduce pain but it won’t help heal the injury. Additionally, icing and pain medication should be avoided for the medium-long term as it will slow the body’s response to healing and repair of the injury

Still painful?

If your pain is not settling after using these initial management techniques for the first 2-3 weeks, it would be timely to see a healthcare professional for further assessment and management. Our Podiatrists are experts in heel pain who will diagnose your condition, assess the root causes of why you have it, and provide you with a specific management plan to solve your condition and keep you active.

If you would like to see our Podiatrists, please give us a call or book your appointment online! We look forward to helping you soon!

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