feet in motion - your proactive podiatrists

Heel Pain

 
Heel pain is one of the most common complaints that patients present with at Feet n Motion. It can vary in its origin and the degree to which it causes pain. The most common reason for heel pain developing is poor foot biomechanics which place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissue structures that insert into it. This stress may be caused by injury, or bruising from walking, running or jumping on hard surfaces; wearing inappropriate footwear; or increased weight.


Why Do I Get Heel Pain?

 Commonly heel pain is connected with Plantar Fasciitis. Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation within the band of fibrous connective tissue (fascia), which runs from the heel (calcaneus) to the ball of the foot. When the plantar fascia is strained over a period of time it starts to stretch or in some cases even tear at points along its length, causing inflammation and pain.
 
When you are walking the plantar fascia has a very important job to do in order for you to keep moving. For “ideal gait” your heel should hit the ground first, with some weight transference initially toward the outside of the foot and then inwards towards the big toe, this movement inwards is known as pronation. At this point the plantar fascia should work like a rubber band and tighten to make the arch rise so that the foot rolls upward and outward (supination), making the foot rigid so that it can work like a lever to take you into your next step. If the foot pronates excessively or at the wrong time, it can place the plantar fascia under undue strain and cause inflammation. Excessive pronation can also start to create strain and injury to other areas of the feet, legs, knees, hips and back. Inflammation may also be caused or further aggravated by wearing shoes that are not appropriate for the type of activity that you are doing. Limited flexibility or tightness in the calf muscles places increased strain on the plantar fascia, and this commonly causes further aggravation.
 
Often rest does provide temporary relief, but on standing after a nights sleep or a period of time sitting there is often stiffness and pain in the region as you suddenly put the plantar fascia back under strain and it pulls on the heel. As you continue walking the pain may decrease or even disappear for a time as the blood flow increases to the area and normal function resumes. Sometimes the pain will then gradually worsen again after a long period of time on your feet.


Treatment

 
To treat heel pain your podiatrist must firstly assess you to determine factors that are likely to be causing or aggravating the problem. Treatment is likely to consist of gentle calf stretching, use of strapping tape to unload the plantar fascia and often the use of ice as an anti-inflammatory. You are likely to receive advice regarding footwear and in some cases you may be prescribed orthotics in order to control your biomechanics.


Tips for Managing Heel Pain

 
  • Wear the appropriate footwear for the activity that you are doing.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly and are not excessively worn.
  • Wear shoes that have shock absorbing soles, supportive heel counters and rigid shanks.
  • Warm up and stretch before and after exercise.
  • If you are overweight, look at appropriate weight loss.
 

Information and managment on heel and foot pain

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Riccarton PhysiotherapyRussley PhysiotherapyEastcare Physio
187 Riccarton Rd, Christchurch Unit 3, 567 Wairakei Rd, Christchurch 285 Breezes Rd, Christchurch
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Pro Active Physiotherapy
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