© SKI Publishing
Simple Steps to Help Heel Pain
By Christine Dobrowolski,
f you experience a sharp pain in your heel at the first step in the morning,
chances are you have plantar fasciitis (plan * tar __fash
ee * i * tis). "Plantar" means
the bottom of the foot. The "fascia" is a long ligament type structure. "Itis" means
inflammation. Plantar fasciitis is a tearing of the ligament on the bottom of
the foot. The tearing causes inflammation and the inflammation causes pain. Plantar
fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. Many individuals with plantar
fasciitis find that they hobble to the bathroom every morning because of the
pain. They must grab onto the dresser or the wall to balance themselves. After
fifteen minutes or so, the pain works itself out, only to come back with a vengeance
at the end of the day. Not all individuals with plantar fasciitis experience
pain in the morning. Many find they only experience heel pain at the end of the
day or during certain types of activity.
Five steps you can take to help decrease your heel pain:
your activity level. The more you are on your feet, the more tearing that
occurs in the fascia. Tearing in the fascia leads to inflammation
pain. Stop running or walking and try biking or swimming. Avoid the treadmill
and the stairmaster at the gym. Limit the number times you go up and down
the stairs at work or home. Avoid hills if possible. Do not lift
or carry heavy items
including your kids. Use a stroller or have your spouse/significant other
carry them. Decrease your activity level for at least two weeks.
If you have improved
after two weeks, do not jump right back into your old routine. A gradual
return to your routine is essential.
- Try using
an ice massage. Freeze a sports water bottle and place
it on the floor. Roll your arch over the water bottle for 20 minutes
your calf. Place
a towel or a belt on your dresser. In the morning, before you get
out of bed, wrap the towel around the ball of your foot.
Pull the foot towards you, keeping your leg straight. You should feel
a stretch in
your calf. Stretch for 30 - 60 seconds. This will help decrease your
pain once you step down. Spend about 5 minutes each evening stretching
above or with the runner's stretch. To really help keep the calf and
the bottom of the foot stretched out, try and stretch for 30 seconds
- Take anti-inflammatory
medications, like naproxen or ibuprofen, will help decrease the inflammation
in the fascia as
a result of the tearing. The anti-inflammatory medications will also
help decrease the pain. Be careful, you don't want to mask the pain.
your pain enough to allow you to run, jog or walk more, you may be doing
more harm than good. Rest, ice and stretch while you are taking the medications.
you have improved after two weeks, slowly start your exercise or workout
- Wear supportive
step may seem logical, but most individuals don't realize how poor
their shoes are. A supportive shoe will bend only where
the foot bends, at the toes. To test this, take your shoe and flip it
the toe area and the heel and try to fold the shoe. If the shoe bends
in half, then the shoe is not supportive. You should wear supportive
at all times.
Don't go barefoot. Get up in the morning, do your stretch and then slip
your feet into a supportive slipper or clog. Having a running or walking
not guarantee a good shoe. Many of these shoes have lightweight designs
and tend to breakdown in the middle of the shoe after two or three months.
Test all of
If your symptoms
do not resolve, see a podiatrist.
is a podiatrist, runner, and author of "Those Aching Feet:
Your Guide To Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Foot Problems," available
via her publisher, SKI Publishing, and at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.
by Dr. Christine Dobrowolski, DPM
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Heel Pain Kit