Perhaps it hits you in the morning, right when you get out of bed and put your feet on the floor. Sharp, stabbing heel pain that makes you hobble for a few minutes until your feet “warm up.”
Or maybe you’re training for the Alexandria Running Festival and have found your heels worse for wear as you’ve pushed yourself for a personal best. Or perhaps the problem isn’t moving as much as having to stand on your feet all day, and you can’t wait to get home and rest your aching heels.
Whatever way heel pain has found to sneak into your life, it should not be there. If you have persistent heel pain, there is likely an underlying cause that is going to need addressing before you can find real relief. That’s when you should give us a call!
In the meantime, however, there are still some easy steps you can take at home to help manage your heel pain.
But remember, these are ways to help you feel better in the interim, and should not be used as an excuse to avoid getting to the root of the problem!
Ice it Up
Ice is always a good go-to for reducing pain and swelling. Just be careful to wrap an ice pack in a towel or other protective barrier and hold it against your foot for a limited amount of time (usually no more than 20 minutes) at a time, for only three or four times per day. Otherwise, you risk freeze damage to your skin.
If you want to add a bit of massage to your icing sessions, it’s as easy as having a container and a freezer!
Fill a water bottle about three-quarters of the way with water and set it in your freezer. When ready, take it out and roll it beneath your foot.
A similar option involves freezing a Styrofoam cup filled with water. The plus side of this is that the Styrofoam better conforms to your foot, making for a better massage. The downside is it’s really hard not to leak water as the ice melts. It’s definitely not something you want to use beneath your desk or close to electronics!
Stretch It Out
The right stretches can help ease heel pain by warming up hurting tissues (such as in the case of plantar fasciitis) or stretching tight muscles that can be placing excess stress on the area.
See if these moves have any effect on your pain. Letting us know might also help us more quickly pinpoint the problem! If they don’t work, at least you still got in a good few minutes of stretching.
- Morning Plantar Fascia Stretch – If you have heel pain in the morning, try this stretch first thing. Sit and cross your legs so the foot you want to stretch rests on your opposite knee. Hold the base of your toes and pull gently toward the shin. (If you have trouble reaching with your hands, wrap a towel around your foot and use that to gently pull back.) You should feel the stretch across the sole of your foot. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.
- Calf Stretch – You will need a wall for support. Lean yourself forward against the wall, with one knee straight and corresponding heel fully on the floor. Place your other leg in front, with knee bent and heel also on the floor. Push your hips gently toward the wall, with control. You should feel a strong stretch in your back calf muscle and heel cord. Hold 10 seconds, relax, and repeat 20 times for each foot.
Take a Rest
It can be difficult with some of our work and life schedules to really put our feet up, but that can be part of the problem.
If you are performing an activity that is leading to worse heel pain, it might be your body’s way of telling you to tone it down or stop—at least until we can help you better respond to it.
Be especially mindful of activities that involve repetitive impacts against hard surfaces (such as running) or time spent standing on hard surfaces (factory jobs, teaching, waiting, etc.).
Reducing running might involve converting a running day to something lower-impact, such as biking or swimming. Reducing heel stress at work might involve sitting during breaks. If not that, you might be able to ask for cushioned mats to be used in areas where you tend to stand most often.
Take Care of Your Heel Pain for Good!
Whatever the cause of your heel pain is, it’s not something that should be ignored or only treated with stop-gap measures.
If your heel pain persists, call Capital Podiatry Associates and schedule an appointment to receive the attention and care you deserve. Drs. Leland Gilmore and Ton Ho are experts in diagnosing and treating heel pain, and your condition will not be one they haven’t seen before!
In a great many cases, heel pain treatment requires an approach specific to the patient’s lifestyle and personal goals. We will help you every step of the way, from recommending the most effective stretches and physical therapy to prescribing custom-made orthotic inserts that provide the exact support and correction your feet may need.
There are many conservative treatment routes to relieving heel pain. Surgery is only considered in very rare cases when other methods don’t work. If we reach that point, however, we will fully discuss all your options with you.
Call Capital Podiatry Associates at (703) 560-3773, or use our online contact form to request an appointment.