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Is Heel Pain Slowing You Down? by Sean Patrick Dunn, DPM

April 23rd, 2018 | Provider Blog

Is heel pain slowing you down? You could be suffering from plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a ligament on the bottom of your foot that helps to hold up the arch. This ligament can become inflamed or irritated, and make every step you take agonizing. Symptoms can include a sharp, stabbing pain in the bottom of your heel with the first step out of bed in the morning, or it may feel like a deep “stone” bruise. Early on, the pain will often get better once you get moving. Plantar fasciitis can stop you from doing the things you love.

Two of the most common causes of plantar fasciitis are poor quality shoes, and a tight Achilles tendon (the strong tendon in the back of your leg). When you are wearing worn out or very flexible shoes, your plantar fascia is under more stress and can become inflamed.

One of the best treatments (and prevention strategies) is to replace your shoes before they show signs of excessive wear. Shoes are similar to tires on your car. They are not designed to last for longer than a year of frequent use, and they wear out much quicker in a more active person.  In the most active people, a new pair of shoes may only last 3 months or so.  Generally, a stiffer-soled shoe will help the pain more than a softer shoe. Most over-the-counter inserts do not help significantly. The more effective types of inserts are usually stiffer.

The majority of people with plantar fasciitis have a tight Achilles tendon. This contributes to the heel pain because a tight Achilles puts more strain through the plantar fascia, and causes overuse.

Standing Achilles stretches are effective in helping to reduce heel pain. A simple exercise involves standing in a lunge position facing a wall, with your hands lightly pressed against the wall for support, and both heels pressed to the floor. This is commonly called a runner’s stretch. The key is to do the stretches multiple times per day, every day.  Consistency is important for successful pain relief.

Ultimately, if home care is not working, there may be other problems that are contributing to your heel pain. The Podiatry department at Grants Pass Clinic is happy to evaluate you and discuss options to help get you out of pain and back to doing what you love.