Tips to Keep Heel Pain Away
If we were to come up with a list of all the foot and ankle problems we see regularly that keep people from doing what they love …
First of all, that’d be a very long list.
Second, there’s a good chance we’d put “heel pain” right at the very top.
Aching heels are an extremely common symptom or side effect of multiple conditions and injuries, with a wide variety of potential triggers.
But don’t mistake “common” for “inevitable!” As a matter of fact, there are many strategies, techniques, and home care options you can use to both soothe and prevent aching heels. And if you’re still having problems after trying these tips, give us a call—we’ll give you the professional treatment you need to get better as quickly as possible.
Change Your Shoes
You probably spend much, if not most, of your waking hours wearing some kind of shoes or sandals on your feet. So you shouldn’t be too surprised that a bad pair of shoes can really wreck your feet by the end of the day!
When it comes to footwear and heel pain, the most common mistakes people tend to make are:
- Your shoes don’t fit. Shoes that are too big or too small can cause all sorts of problems, including heel pain. Remember that feet do grow and change shape slightly throughout your life, so always measure your feet and test out every pair before you buy—you should never have to “break in” your shoes.
- Your shoes aren’t appropriate for your chosen activity. This mainly applies to active people. If you play specific sports, you can’t always get away with wear the same general-purpose “athletic shoe” for each one. Choose a shoe designed for the activity you play.
- Your shoes aren’t appropriate, period. We’ll level with you. Some shoes are just murder on your feet. If you spend most of your day in, say, high heels (or flip flops), your feet are going to hurt. When it comes to heel pain, it’s important that your shoes have adequate cushioning and stability in the heel, as well as support for the arch.
- Your shoes used to be good, but should have been replaced ages ago. Your shoe’s insoles and midsoles aren’t invincible. Over time, they’ll wear down, get flattened and compressed, and lose the ability to absorb shocks effectively. Insoles can be replaced; midsoles, not so much.
Manage Your Weight
We probably don’t have to tell you that maintaining a healthy body weight is an important for your overall health. More energy, lower risk of chronic disease, and improved self-image are probably the three most popular reasons people give for why they’d like to lose weight.
However, we’d like to add “reduced foot pain” to that list, too.
It’s a pretty simple concept, of course. The heavier you are, the more force is placed on your heels with each step. That means your heels wear down and start to ache sooner, which in turn keeps you from exercising as much as you’d like to. A vicious cycle.
Vary Your Activities
So if you are struggling a bit with your fitness or suffering from heel pain, how do you manage to get the exercise you need?
One of the best tips is to make sure you get your exercise through a variety of different activities, with a focus on low-impact activities. Going for a bike ride, swimming laps at the pool, or even just taking a walk at a relaxed pace won’t stress your joints as much as a more vigorous sport will.
That doesn’t mean you have to give up running, playing basketball, or any other sport that you love! It just means you probably shouldn’t do it every day. Make sure you’re giving your heels the time they need to rest and recover before the next session, and work other areas of your body in the meantime.
One other quick tip? Ease into new activities, rather than going full bore from the get-go. It takes time for feet and ankles to adjust to new stresses and loads placed upon them, so start new sports and exercises at a low pace. Then, increase intensity only by 10 percent or so week to week.
Make Accommodations at Work
In our neck of the woods, we have a lot of people who spend most (if not all) of their day at work on their feet. Teachers, farmers, industrial workers, security guards … you get the idea. While having an active job can be great for personal fitness, it often leads to aching heels by the end of the day.
Now, we’re not going to suggest you switch jobs. However, it may benefit you to think about ways you could make accommodations at work to reduce the amount of stress on your feet.
You might consider strategies such as:
- Getting a really comfortable pair of work shoes. We already talked about shoes at length in this blog, but it’s worth repeating. You might consider a pair of compression socks as well.
- Placing a rug, squishy mat, or other soft surface at a workstation where you regularly stand.
- Take advantage of your break time—sit and relax.
- If you have to stand or sit in one position for long periods of time, make sure you regularly stretch, wiggle your toes, even shift your weight around throughout the day to keep the blood flowing.
Call a Podiatrist
When all your home treatments and various lifehacks let you down, and you’re still experiencing heel pain that keeps you from living life to the fullest, give us a call.
We can step in with additional treatments, such as:
- Physical therapy. We’ll recommend specific stretches and exercises to relax and loosen tight muscles and tendons and minimize tugging and strain on the heel. We can also provide night splints, braces, or other tools to help you.
- Orthotics. Depending on the cause and severity of your heel pain, we can recommend either a prefabricated insole or fit you for custom orthotics. These slip into your shoes and give you the extra cushioning and support you need.
- Laser therapy. One of our newest and most advanced treatments, laser therapy harnesses the energy of light to stimulate cellular healing and repair mechanisms. It’s great for chronic heel pain that is healing slowly, or not at all.
So don’t get worked up about heel pain! No matter how severe your discomfort, we can help you get back to your favorite activities. Just give us a call at (989) 695-6788 to schedule, or request an appointment online.