Heel pain is one of the most common conditions treated by Podiatrists.

It is thought that higher arches or flatter arches, or feet that roll in too much, are causes of heel pain. This can place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissues attached to it. Twenty-five percent of all the bones in the human body are located in the feet. These strong body parts are made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles. So, if you think about it, you can see why there are so many things that can go wrong in the feet.

Runners especially can get a lot of injuries as the pressure on the feet when running can be as much as four times the runner’s weight! That’s why conditioning is so important. The body needs time to adapt to an increase in activity without injuries occurring.

The tissue stress may also result from injury, or a bruise incurred while walking, running or jumping on hard surfaces, wearing poor footwear or being significantly overweight.

Children between the ages 8-13 years old who are very active can also be prone to heel pain.

Some of the main reasons that patients experience heel pain include:

  • Excessively pronated feet (feet that roll in)
  • Heel spurs
  • Bursitis
  • Neuroma
  • Soft tissue sprain
  • Stress fracture

Things to look out for
If pain and other symptoms of inflammation – redness, swelling and heat – persist, you should limit normal daily activities (no high impact) and consult our podiatrist.

Our podiatrist may refer you for x-rays to look for heel spurs or fractures.

Early treatment might involve exercise and footwear recommendations, taping or strapping, recommendation to physiotherapy or osteopathic treatment and anti-inflammatory medication. Taping or strapping supports the foot, placing stressed muscles in a more relaxed state and preventing straining of the soft tissue. Other physical therapies may also be used, including ice packs and ultrasound.

Your recovery will depend on the cause of your heel pain and your individual health. If you are suffering from a heel spur or plantar fasciitis, it normally takes about six to eight weeks for a healthy individual to fully recover, however results vary a lot between individuals.

Preventing future problems Footwear
Wear shoes that fit well – front, back and sides – and have shock-absorbent soles, rigid uppers and supportive heel counters. Do not wear shoes with excessive wear on heels or soles. Don’t wear shoes that are too old – even if you haven’t worn them a lot, as the material can deteriorate over time, which can lead to injuries.

Stretches and exercise
Prepare properly before exercising. Don’t do too much too quickly.

Warm-up before running or walking and do some stretching exercises afterwards.

Give your body the time to adapt to new exercises and modify complex, new exercises if necessary. If overweight, try non weight-bearing activities such as swimming or cycling until your body can adapt.

Additional control
As mentioned previously, our podiatrist may also use taping or strapping to provide extra support for your foot, this is more of a short-term measure as taping can cause irritation if used over a long period of time.

Orthoses (shoe inserts) specifically made to suit your needs may also be prescribed if deemed necessary. Depending on your foot type and the pain you’re experiencing, will determine if your Podiatrist believes it necessary to prescribe custom orthotics (using our 3D scanning technology) or semi-custom (heat moulded to your feet) which don’t last as long but are suitable for some patients.

Learn more about ATUNE Podiatry

References: https://www.apodc.com.au/foot-health-resources/heel-pain