Help! I have heel pain

The most common causes of heel pain is plantar fasciitis.  The plantar fascia runs from the heel to the front of the foot.  An irritation or inflammation of this is called platar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia was designed to support the arch of the foot.  Each time you place weight on your foot, the plantar fascia gets stretched.  Those with flat feet, stretch the plantar fascia more and therefore place increased stress on it.  Over time and with factors that increase the likely hood such as obesity and flat feet, the plantar fascia sustains microtears.  Most times, the body will repair these tears naturally but overtime and if the plantar fascia sustains enough of them it will not be able to recover and it will develop plantar fasciitis.

The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis, besides pain in the bottom of the foot, is a painful first step.   Most people with full blown plantar fasciitis report having a very painful first step when they put their foot down out of bed in the morning.  This is usually after the plantar fascia has become extremely inflammed.

There are certain activities that cause the plantar fascia to become inflammed.  They are:

  • Excessive running or jumping
  • High arches or low arches
  • Improper footwear
  • Obesity, weight gain or pregnancy

One of the most common mistakes with plantar fasciitis is not allowing for proper recovery by wearing proper shoes.  I only dive into this topic as summer is approaching rapidly and the flip flops have already begun to make their way out of the closet.  You cannot fix plantar fascitis by wearing flip flops.  I repeat, you CANNOT treat plantar fascitis by wearing flip flops.  And no, no amount of arguing with me will change that statement.  Your arch needs support, the one thing that helps to support it, the plantar fascia, needs some rest.  It needs supportive sneakers.  If you aren\’t sure which type of sneakers click here to a quick reference guide of proper shoe wear.

If you do wind up developing plantar fascitis, unfortunately it does take a long time to get rid of.  Why? Because you walk on your feet everyday and even if you do wear proper footwear, which will cut down on the rehab time considerably, you still weight bear on the plantar fascia everyday which causes it to remain inflammed.

What do you do if you develop plantar fascitis?  There are night splints that people sometimes report working but the most effective treatment is physical therapy.  During your course of therapy you can expect manual therapy to help decrease the inflammation in the plantar fascia.  Stretching to stretch out the back of the heel.  And modalities such as ice and ultrasound to help decrease the pain.  One of the best things you can do when you have the pain is ice the bottom of your foot.  And you can do that by making your own ice pack by following the link or filling a plastic bottle with water and freezing it.  Then run it under your foot at least 20 minutes once a day.  You may also be fit for custom orthotics, which will permanently help support the arch.  Finally, kinesiotaping may be applied to help reduce the inflammation and support the arch.

Plantar fascia is a difficulty ailment to treat.  When you suspect you have it you need to begin treatment immediately in order to reduce the amount of time in rehab.  Getting in sooner rather than later can make all the difference in the world.


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