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80% of Heel Pain comes from These Two Conditions.

Physio&SoleClinic Flat Feet, Heel Pain, Podiatry June 7 2017

“Oh no! I have pain in my heel!”

Heel pain is one of the most common foot problems that we see at Physio & Sole Clinic.

Here are the 2 most common types of heel conditions – one of them may be the cause of your pain.

  1. Plantar Fasciitis

What is it?

The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous tissue band connecting the heels to the toes and it is important for stabilizing the foot during walking. Plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury due to abnormal loading of the plantar fascia during walking and sports. The plantar fascia can get swollen and damaged. It is the most common type of heel pain.

 What is contributing to your pain?

  • Flat Feet: With a collapsed arch, the constant stretch at the plantar fascia combined with the constant pressure at the arch area during walking may cause plantar fasciitis.

  • High arch: A high arched foot typically has a tight plantar fascia which overstretches during walking, causing plantar fasciitis.

  • Tight calf muscles: Having tight calf muscles reduces the mobility in the ankle joint, causing you to land at the arch area instead of the heel, thus overloading the plantar fascia.

  • Poor footwear: Wearing slippers or shoes with inadequate support may affect the way you are walking, stressing the plantar fascia.

  • Weight gain: The extra weight goes to your feet causing too much pressure at the plantar fascia.
  • Increase or change in activities: A sudden increase in frequency or intensity in activities  like walking or running may contribute to plantar fasciitis.

Symptoms: Pain is felt at the bottom inner heel where the plantar fascia starts and the pain may also extend along the whole foot. Pain is worst in the morning when stepping down from bed and when getting up from a seated position. Typically, the pain gets better after taking a few steps.

 How you can treat yourself

  • Rest to minimize pressure on the feet.

  • Massage the arch area with an iced bottle for 20 minutes nightly.

  • Lose weight if necessary to reduce pressure at the feet.
  • Use footwear with a firm heel counter, firm midsole and straps or laces across the foot to better support the feet.

  • In the morning, before stepping down from bed, pull your toes towards you and stretch the plantar fascia.

  • Stretch your calves twice a day, hold for 30 seconds and alternate legs 2 times each time.

What can we do to help you?

If self-treatment does not work, you should approach a Podiatrist who can help you with following:

  • Calf release: This helps to loosen up any tight knots in the calves, making the calves and ankle joints more flexible.

  • Taping: Sports tape helps to stabilise your foot,reducing pressure on the plantar fascia.
  • Fitting Insoles: Insoles put your feet into a better position, helping your feet function more effectively and taking the stress away from the plantar fascia.

2. Achilles Tendinopathy

What is it?

Insertional Achilles Tendinopathy is a condition affecting the Achilles tendon where it inserts into the back of the heel bone.

What is contributing to your pain?

  • Repetitive high impact activities cause overloading at the Achilles tendon (eg. skipping).
  • Tight calf muscles constantly pulling at the back of the heel, causing inflammation.
  • Excessive pronation or supination when walking or running can cause the Achilles tendon to overwork when trying to stabilise the foot.

  • Haglund’s deformity, a bony prominence at the back of the heel that irritates the Achilles tendon.

Where and when do you feel pain?

Pain and swelling at the back of the heel bone. It is often painful and stiff in the morning. The pain may ease off after warming up. Pain is exacerbated during high impact activities like running or jumping.

What can you do to feel better

  • Avoid any high impact activity to rest the Achilles tendon. Do non weight-bearing activities such as swimming to maintain fitness if required.
  • Apply an ice pack for 20 minutes every night to reduce inflammation around the Achilles tendon.
  • Wearing shoes with an open heel or soft heel counter will help reduce irritation around the Achilles tendon.

What can we do to help you?

If self-treatment does not work, a Podiatrist can help with the following:

  • Taping: Sports tape helps to stabilise the foot and takes pressure off the Achilles tendon.
  • Insoles: Insoles can correct abnormal mechanics of the foot, putting less stress on the Achilles tendon.
  • Isometric and eccentric exercises: These exercises help to reduce pain as well as train the Achilles tendon to receive load. It is a structured program to be done with a Physiotherapist.

We hope the information that we have shared can help you take one step closer to pain relief!  Drop us a line if you need to consult a podiatrist!

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