If you are experiencing prolonged heel pain, you know how inconvenient it can be. When it hurts to stand or walk, even the simplest of everyday tasks can become arduous. The overwhelming majority of heel pain can be attributed to one condition: Plantar fasciitis. In this blog, we’re going to examine what that is, and how you can both address and prevent heel pain.
The plantar fascia is the name of the ligament that runs from our heels to our toes, and the suffix -itis means the swelling of this ligament. The plantar fascia is one of the most commonly injured body parts, often as a result of overuse. As we walk or run, the ligament is stretched and suffers tiny tears, which is what causes the pain you feel. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to reduce this pain and the chance it will reoccur.
Gentle and deliberate stretching of the tissue before exercise will make it much less likely to tear as mentioned above. There are two very easy stretches you can do to help warm up the plantar fascia and reduce its susceptibility to injury. One option is the wall press. To do this, remove any footwear and find a wide, flat wall with plenty of space. Put one foot forward at the base of the wall, and one backward behind you. Put both hands on the wall and push as if you were trying to move the whole thing. You will feel the stretch along the arch of your feet. Hold this for about 30 seconds, then switch feet.
Another option is to sit down with your legs in front of you in a V shape. To do the stretch, simply reach forward and grab your toes. Hold this for about 30 seconds, or for as long as is comfortable. You can do both of these stretches together in order to get the best results, or simply focus on the one you find most comfortable. They can be done every day, or before exercise. Just remember that ‘feeling the burn’ is not always what you want, so don’t overdo it. The stretches should be uncomfortable, but not painful. If you feel pain, you may be overdoing it and causing more damage.
If you are already experiencing pain, there is a very easy and effective home remedy to relieve your symptoms and help promote healing. Simply place a bottle of water in the freezer and give it time to freeze completely (maybe pour a small amount out beforehand to avoid any bursts). When the bottle is frozen solid, take it out and place it on the floor. Then, just sit down and roll the bottle up and down the bottom of your feet for a few minutes each. The physical motion of this will promote the flow of blood and lymph, which both promote healing, while the cold will reduce swelling and relieve pain.
For a more detailed massage, you may prefer to give yourself one manually. To properly massage the plantar fascia, rub both thumbs firmly from heel to toe, again to promote the flow of blood and lymph. Do this on each foot for about a minute.
Following the above advice, you should notice significant improvement in under two weeks. If this is not the case and the pain persists, be sure to visit a specialist.
While plantar fasciitis is technically an overuse injury, improper footwear can also be a contributing factor. Shoes that do not have proper arch support are a widespread problem in today’s market, so if you have been experiencing heel pain, make sure you have the right type of footwear.