A self care guide to address your current heel pain symptoms.
For many of us right now, walking and running are our only way to get out of the house and mentally feel better for some exercise and fresh air. This sudden increase in activity for some can lead to new heel pain. There are many reasons why this may develop and it would be ideal to see a Podiatrist to address the cause, when we are able to access these services again, but in the meantime you can address your symptoms at home.
Top 5 Tips
1. Icing - use an icepack or frozen peas on the area when resting in the evening. This will help to reduce any inflammation that may be present.
2. Foam Rolling - While seated, roll your foot back and forth over a frozen water bottle, ice-cold can, foam roller or a hard ball. Do this for one minute and switch to the other foot. Rolling can can help 'massage' the area and breakdown adhesions, reduce stiffness, increases blood flow and reduce tissue tension, leading to improved recovery and performance. If this produces pain then ease off the amount of pressure you are applying. No pain no gain is not the answer here - be gentle.
3. Stretching - While seated cross your ankle across the opposite leg and pull your toes backwards, paying particular attention to the big toe. You will feel a gentle stretch in the sole of your foot. If you cant reach your foot use a towel to gently pull the foot backwards. Hold this gently for a count of 20 and repeat each side three times.
b. Stand facing a wall with both feet facing forward and hands flat against the wall. Take a step backwards with one leg. Keep the rear leg straight and the heel flat on the floor, push into the wall to feel a stretch down the back of your lower leg. Make sure both feet remain facing forward throughout the entire exercise.
Hold gently for a count of 20-30 seconds and repeat 3 repetitions each side
c. Sit on the floor and stretch one leg out in front of you. Lean forward to grab your toes or place a band or a towel around the foot and straighten your leg. Pull the foot towards you and feel a stretch through the sole of the foot, back of the lower (calf) and upper (hamstrings) leg.
Hold for a count of 30 seconds and repeat 3 repetitions each side.
4. Footwear - Make sure your chosen footwear is supportive and not worn out in areas, particularly around the heel. Walking shoes should be supportive around the heels with some rigidity through the arch but flexible at the toe counter - this will allow your toes to flex and aid normal foot function.
5. Insoles - Short term use of insoles may be utilized to rest the plantar fascia while you maintain your activities. Purchase a simple off the shelf arch support to offer some potential relief but these should be checked by your Podiatrist as they may need altered.
Always buy a pair of insoles and wear both sides even if only one heel hurts. Either a three quarter length or full length device are both ideal. The link below will give you a good example and price comparison.
The above information will help address your symptoms but seeing your Podiatrist to address the cause is paramount to avoiding a viscous cycle of symptoms. Your podiatrist will assess your foot and lower limb function and find the route cause to this pain. Utilising exercises, altering insoles/orthotics and strengthening weaker areas are just some of the avenues your Podiatrist will address and aid you to a full and long term recovery and keep you walking/running and staying fit and active.