There are several reasons why people of all ages experience pain in the heel. Some have a condition called plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the foot’s fascia, while others experience problems due to shortened tendons. Often, heel pain can be cured at home with rest, ice, stretching, and strengthening exercises. But if these remedies don’t work, you should speak to your foot doctor in Kelowna, BC or Victoria, BC.
A specialist can run some tests and let you know why you are suffering. They can also provide you with a splint or orthotics, and they might refer you to other experts such as physiotherapists or massage therapists if they believe that your posture is contributing to the issue. Depending on your individual situation and the severity of your condition, they might also suggest innovative treatments like TENs.
7 Things to Do When Experiencing Pain in the Heel
1. Change Your Shoes
Everybody knows that high-heeled pumps aren’t good for the feet, but in fact, there is a whole list of shoes you should avoid if you want to prevent foot problems. If you’re concerned about heel pain, you should think about what kind of footwear you use on a regular basis. People who walk around in flip flops, shoes with very stiff soles or heels, or shoes that are very worn down from overuse might be making their problem worse.
Surprisingly, completely flat footwear is also an issue because it doesn’t offer enough support. Ballet flats and other shoes with very flat soles don’t provide arch support and therefore require your foot to work harder. This is also the case if you ditch shoes altogether. While barefoot walking is generally a healthy practice and should especially be encouraged in children, patients with heel pain should protect their feet by wearing supportive shoes.
2. Get Custom Insoles or Orthotics
You may have heard that getting insoles can help stop plantar fasciitis pain. This is true, but you shouldn’t just purchase an insole at your local shoe store because such a product isn’t tailored to your foot and can therefore make the problem worse. Instead, you should visit your local specialist and have your feet assessed.
The foot doctor might get you to walk or run, so they can see whether your posture and the way you move contribute to the problem. If so, they might prescribe orthotics, which are medical devices that aim to correct a patient’s movement patterns. Once you’ve gotten used to the orthotics, you can wear them for eight hours a day and complete all regular activities with them. Just like eyeglasses, they are meant to be used for the rest of your life.
3. Do Stretches and Strengthening Exercises
Stretching has been shown to relieve heel pain in around 80% of patients, so it is a highly effective and easy method of treating the condition. To get started, stand facing a wall and put your hands against it. Step your right foot back and bend the left leg until you can feel a gentle pull in your right leg. Hold the position for around thirty seconds, then switch to the other side.
Alternatively, you can stand on a step with the balls of your feet, dropping your heels below the level of the step. If you’d also like to strengthen your calves, you can raise and lower your ankles while in this position. People who are experiencing significant heel pain should always speak to their doctor before performing any stretches or strengthening exercises to make sure the activities are safe for them.
4. Wear a Splint
If you’ve been wearing supportive shoes and stretching your calves for several weeks and you’re still experiencing pain in the heel, you should ask your doctor in Kelowna, BC or Victoria, BC whether your sleeping position could be the problem. Many people sleep with their feet extended, which shortens the calf muscle and therefore puts strain on the heel.
A foot expert can recommend a night splint that keeps your foot in the correct position and allows you to gently stretch your muscles while you sleep. Many patients have found great relief after wearing their splints, especially if they also rest, ice, and stretch their legs and feet during the daytime.
5. Massage and Ice Your Feet
People who are very physically active often experience tension in their arch and heel due to tight muscles. To counteract this, you can gently massage your feet whenever you get the chance. Some patients also find that rolling a tennis ball or golf ball under their feet is an easy way of counteracting pain. When you first try this, you might be surprised that there are “hot spots” that feel very tender.
Don’t shy away from them. Instead, apply firm pressure for a few seconds before moving on to a different spot. That way, you can encourage more blood to flow to your feet, which stimulates the healing process and breaks down improperly healed muscle tears.
6. Try New Treatments Like TENs
In recent years, new treatments have been developed to address heel pain. Depending on your general health and the severity of your condition, you might be eligible to participate. A particularly interesting method is called TENs, and it involves stimulating the nerves in the feet with a small amount of electrical current.
If your doctor believes that this treatment could be suitable for you, they might recommend that you purchase a device. Since the amount of electrical energy is very low, you can safely use TENs for as long as you want, but many doctors recommend turning on the device for around 30-60 minutes up to four times a day. Recent studies indicate that this therapy can reduce inflammation, stiffness, and pain and allow patients to resume activities like walking.
7. Visit Your Foot Doctor in Kelowna, BC or Victoria, BC
Sometimes, heel pain can be treated at home, but if your symptoms don’t improve within a week or two, you should get in touch with your clinic and book an appointment. Plantar fasciitis can’t usually be cured without stretching and strengthening exercises, medication, or interventions such as orthotics and night splints. By delaying treatment, you might make the problem worse, so it’s a good idea to see a specialist as soon as you can.
During your appointment, the doctor will ask you about your symptoms, what sports you do, and what kind of footwear you use. They might also ask you to stand or move, so they can see whether you have postural issues that need to be addressed. In some cases, your foot doctor will refer you to a physio or a massage therapist.
Get the Help You Need
Pain in the heel can be debilitating, especially when it doesn’t go away for several weeks or months. If you’re experiencing this problem, you should consider changing your shoes, getting custom insoles or orthotics, and visiting a foot doctor to find out what is causing your pain. Your specialist can examine your feet, run some tests, and determine whether you are suffering from plantar fasciitis.