Heel pain is a common complaint that can have several causes. This type of pain can affect your ability to stand and walk due to the pressure on the sore area. And at times, if your feet hurt you might feel like you hurt all over. Your normal activities can be greatly affected if you are unable to walk without pain.
Heel pain is generally caused by repetitive stress rather than a single traumatic injury. Here are a few possible causes of heel pain:
Plantar fasciitis: Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue on the bottom of your foot that helps support your arch. Plantar fasciitis is the result of this tissue being over stressed, which leads to pain where the fascia meets the heel bone. Plantar fasciitis is common in people who spend a lot of time on their feet, including athletes or those that stand all day at work. With this condition, pain is more prevalent on the bottom of the heel.
Achilles Tendinitis: Pain behind the heel is commonly associated with Achilles tendinitis, but this condition can also include pain both on the inside and outside portion of the heel. There may be swelling or tenderness in the back of the heel and along the Achilles tendon.
Heel Spur: A bone spur can form on the heel due to increased stress on the surrounding muscle tissues. A common site for bone spurs is where the plantar fascia connects to the heel bone, but bone spurs can also occur on the back of the heel. Bone spurs form gradually over time therefore they may be the result of long term condition. Poor fitting or worn out shoes can also lead to bone spurs.
Sever’s Disease: This is the most common cause of heel pain in children and adolescent athletes. It is common in athletes who compete barefoot such as those in gymnastics or karate. The condition is due to repetitive stress near the growth plate in the heel.
Seated Stretch: sit with one leg crossed over the knee, grab your heel with one hand, and use your other hand to gently pull up on the toes. You will feel a stretch in the arch of the foot. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. This can be performed throughout the day.
Standing Calf Stretch: place both hands on the wall, step back with one foot and keep your knee straight and heel on the ground. Lean forward onto your front foot until you feel a stretch in the calf.
Variation: Similar to above, but instead of keeping your back leg straight bend both legs. This stretch is felt lower in the calf along your Achilles tendon or in the back of the heel.
Massage: Use a tennis ball to roll along your arch for self-massage. You can perform sitting or standing and you control how much pressure you apply. To learn more about how tennis balls can be used to relieve pain, check out our “Massage Balls: The New Weapon Against Muscle Pain” blog.
Tip: use a frozen water bottle for both ice and massage to roll along the arch of your foot.
Balance Activities: Activities for balance help stabilize the ankle and foot to help decrease stress on certain joints and tissues. Examples include standing with feet close together with eyes open and eyes closed, standing in tandem with one foot in front of the other, and trying to balance on one foot.
It is important to note that physical therapy may be a good treatment option for your heel pain. To have your pain assessed, schedule a free assessment with one of our experts by clicking the button below.
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