Treatment For Heel Pain From Walking
The agony of Heel Pain can be unbearable, and it’s a distressingly common foot condition. Every step taken causes spikes of intense pain in the heel, making movement difficult and uncomfortable.
The ache in one’s heel can start off as a minor discomfort but soon develop into crippling pain with every single step you take. As time passes, the magnitude of suffering will only intensify – until something is done to alleviate it.
Most cases only involve the discomfort of one heel, although it is estimated that a staggering third of individuals experience pain in both.
In the mornings, or if you’ve been inactive for a while and take your first step, oftentimes the pain will be at its worst. Taking a few steps can lessen it – yet prolonged walking or standing can bring back that same discomfort.
Certain people may start to limp or develop an unusual way of walking in order to take pressure off their ailing heels.
What causes heel pain?
In most instances, excruciating heel pain is precipitated by damage to the plantar fascia, a tough band of tissue located in your foot. As this area thickens over time, it can cause immense discomfort and agony.
Plantar fasciitis is a medical term for the widening of the plantar fascia ligament.
Related article about heel pain.
The plantar fascia
The plantar fascia is a strong yet flexible band of tissue that stretches along the sole underfoot and connects the heel bone to each individual foot bone. Acting as an incredible shock absorber, this structure safeguards your feet from harsh impacts while walking or running.
As time progresses, the tissue of your plantar fascia can experience microtears from either acute or prolonged forms of damage. Once these tears accumulate, they cause the plantar fascia to become more voluminous and result in heel pain for you.
In addition, the tissue surrounding the heel and its bone can become inflamed from time to time.
When to see your GP
If you have experienced persistent heel pain for a number of consecutive weeks and it has not improved, then consult your general practitioner or visit a podiatrist.
Your medical provider should have the ability to uncover the source of your heel pain by inquiring about your background and symptoms, as well as examining your heel and foot.
If you are experiencing additional indications that your heel pain isn’t due to inflammation, further tests may be required. These signs can include:
- If you experience a loss of sensation or pins-and-needles in your feet, it may be an indication of nerve damage to the peripheral nerves located in your lower extremities (peripheral neuropathy).
- If you are feeling an intense warmth in your foot and a fever of 38°C (100.4°F) or higher, it could be indicative of a bone infection.
- If you’ve noticed your heel feeling stiff and swollen, it could be a possible symptom of arthritis.
Additional testing that might be suggested includes blood tests, X-rays, an MRI scan, or an ultrasound.
Who gets heel pain?
Heel pain is a rampant foot condition, with approximately one in ten individuals afflicted by it at least once throughout their lifetime.
Heel pain affects two predominant demographics: those who frequently jog or run, and adults between the ages of 40-60.
Treating heel pain
If you’re suffering from heel pain, a variety of treatments can help you recover quickly and alleviate your discomfort. Here are some options worth considering:
- Resting your heel – Refrain from prolonged walking and standing.
- Regular stretching – stretching your calf muscles and plantar fascia
- Pain relief – To alleviate the discomfort of heel pain, use an icepack in conjunction with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to get effective results.
- Wearing well-fitted shoes that support and cushion your feet – running shoes are particularly useful
- Using supportive devices – Such as orthoses, which are rigid supports placed inside the shoe, or strapping.
Unfortunately, 8 out of 10 people who experience heel pain must endure it for a full year. This can be terribly painful and disheartening – but if you remain patient and diligent with your treatments, relief is just around the corner!
On rare occasions, further treatments are not sufficient for a successful recovery and surgery may be necessary to address the plantar fascia.
Four best stretching exercises to do when your heel is hurting.
1. Calf stretch
Position yourself an arm’s length away from the wall while your right foot trails behind your left. Lean on the wall with both hands and gently bend your left leg, making sure that you keep your right knee straight and feet firmly planted on the ground.
Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds, then release and repeat three times. Once complete, switch legs to target the opposite side.
This calf stretch is an excellent way to soothe your aching heel since it works on the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in your calf, eliminating tension and alleviating discomfort.
2. Foot roll
Position yourself comfortably in an upright chair and then start rolling your foot gently over a cool object such as a frozen water bottle, ice-cold can, or foam roller for roughly one minute. When you’re done with that side, switch to the other foot and repeat the process.
This exercise can serve as a soothing massage, easing your heel pain and allowing you to feel relief.
3. Big toe stretch
Relax in a seated position, then cross one leg over the other. Reach for your big toe and delicately pull it towards you, maintaining this pose for 15-30 seconds before releasing. Cycle through this three times with each foot to complete the stretch.
Related: Get Out of Pain and be Back on Your Feet: A Practical Roadmap For Dealing with Plantar Fascia Issues via ESWT
4. Towel stretch
If you are looking for a calf stretch variation, try using a chair and towel instead of relying on the wall.
To start, take a towel and fold it in half lengthwise to make a band. While sitting down with your feet on the floor, place this strap under the arch of one foot. Then grab both ends of the towel firmly in each hand and delicately pull that same foot towards you until feeling an intense stretch — hold for 15-30 seconds before switching feet.
Preventing heel pain
Excess pounds can be detrimental to your feet, particularly your heels. To protect them and promote overall well-being, it is essential to maintain a healthy weight through regular exercise plus a nutritious diet. Shedding extra kilos will undoubtedly benefit how you feel as well!
Wearing the right type of shoes is paramount for your comfort. The ideal shoe should be low to moderate-heeled, cushioning, and offering adequate support for both arches and heels. Ensure that you never opt out of a pair of shoes without any heel whatsoever!