OUCH! Why does my heel hurt?

Plantar Fasciitis – Aka ‘Heel Spur Syndrome’

Have you changed your exercise routine as a result of Covid-19 and all of a sudden developed pain under your heel? Are those first few steps when getting out of bed in the morning particularly painful? Chances are, you have developed Plantar Fasciitis!

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is the most common injury that we see at FNQ Podiatry & Orthotics. Contrary to the common belief that the pain is a Heel Spur, it is more often than not discomfort/irritation of the Plantar Fascia. The Plantar Fascia is a band/fascia of connective tissue that runs from the heel to the base of the toes. This fascia is the main supportive structure through your arch and takes the majority of the load whilst you are walking. 

There are a few key characteristics:

  • Pain when walking first thing in the morning or after rest. 
  • Site of pain can vary from directly under the heel, into the arch or around the perimeter of the heel itself. 
  • Pain generally improves after you have been walking on it for a short while. 

It is vital that you address this issue immediately as it has been potential to develop into a chronic injury that can take up to 18 months to fix. Given this, here is our simple 5 step guide to managing heel pain that you can try from the comfort of our home!
Settling the pain and inflammation

  • Icing (can be done up to 5x a day)
  • Topical anti-inflammatories (Voltaren/Deep Heat)

Self-massage using a spiky ball or tennis ball

  • In a seated position, roll your foot over the ball. The focus needs to be in the arch area, don’t go directly on the heel.
  • 5-10 minutes, twice a day

Wearing your most supportive shoes as often as possible, particularly when walking first thing in the morning when you get out of bed. Here are a few pointers to help choose appropriate shoes;

  • Shoes with arch support which therefore place less pressure on the plantar fascia by propping it up.
  • A deep heel cup. The right heel cup should hug your heel to protect the heel bone 
  • Cushioning. Make sure the shoes have an excellent cushioning system to absorb the impact when the heel hits the ground
  • Flexibility – Shoes that are either too stiff or too unstructured might exacerbate symptoms. To test the shoes, trying twisting and bending them.
  • Ladies, consider trialling a 2-3cm wedge around the house. This will help take pressure off the heel and often helps with pain!

Calf stretches

  • Using the wall for support, legs apart and feet facing straight ahead and parallel to one another. Back knee straight and front knee is bent and lean into the stretch
  • 3 x 20s on each leg, in each position, as shown in the diagram below
  • Repeat on the opposite leg and then try bending the back leg (soleus stretch) 

Toe scrunches with towel

  • Seated with your toes on a towel.
  • Scrunch towel towards you and hold for 2 seconds before releasing. 
  • Repeat movement 3 x 60 seconds on each foot or until muscle fatigue in the arch

For more information on Plantar Fasciitis, click here. 

Give these 5 steps a go at home and they should help to improve your comfort.  If symptoms persist, further intervention may be required, in which case, call our clinic on 40 455 749 and one of our friendly and experienced Podiatrists will be able to get you pain free and back doing what you love!

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