Manali Modi

Manali Modi

Stop the Hurt Before It Starts: Preventing Heel Pain

  Mar 18, 2024

 Preventing Heel Pain

Our heels bear the burden of our daily lives, pounding pavements, absorbing impacts, and propelling us forward. 

But sometimes, this hardworking duo cries out in protest, throbbing with the unwelcome heel pain. 

There are many factors causing aches, but the most common are wearing ill-fitted shoes, walking with incorrect posture, and obesity.

To prevent any severe damage, let’s take a proactive approach and explore ways to keep your ankles happy and healthy.

Understanding the Heel’s Troubles 

Heal Pain Causes

First, let’s identify the culprits behind heel pain, as medical research has some serious concerns regarding the way heels are worn. Common suspects include:

  • Plantar Fasciitis: Inflammation of the band of tissue connecting your heel bone to your toes, often causing sharp, stabbing aches in the morning.
  • Achilles Tendinitis: Inflammation of the tendon connecting your calf muscle to your heel bone, leading to throbbing soreness and stiffness.
  • Heel Bursitis: Inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs cushioning your heel bone, resulting in tenderness and swelling.
  • Bone Spurs: Bony growths on the heel bone, causing injury and irritation. 

Up to 10% of the general adult population is estimated to be affected by Plantar Heel Pain, but it is also prevalent among younger, athletic populations, such as long-distance runners and military personnel.

Shoes for Heel Pain Prevention: Your First Line of Defense

Different types of shoes, our constant companions, play a significant role in ankle health. 

Opting for the right shoes for heel pain can be your first step towards strong ankle joints:

  • Support is key: Opt for shoes with good arch support and cushioning, especially if you spend long hours on your feet. Look for brands specializing in supportive footwear like Brooks, Asics, or New Balance.
  • Fit matters: Ill-fitting shoes can pinch, rub, and put undue stress on your ankles. Get your feet measured regularly and pick footwear that fits snugly but not tightly.
  • Activity-specific choices: Running shoes for running, hiking boots for hiking, and comfortable flats for everyday wear. Avoid wearing the same footwear for all activities.
  • Heel height matters: Limit high heels (anything above 2 inches) to occasional wear. Opt for wedges or platforms for better stability if you crave some elevation.
  • Replace, replace, replace: Worn-out shoes lose their cushioning and support, increasing your risk of heel pain. Replace your footwear regularly, especially if you’re active. 

If necessary, your podiatrist will show you how to tape or strap your feet to help support the muscles and ligaments.

Beyond Shoes: Lifestyle Tweaks for Happy Heels

While shoes are relevant, heel health is a holistic endeavor. Here are some lifestyle modifications to complement your footwear choices:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight puts extra strain on your ankles. Aim for a healthy weight or consult your doctor for weight management guidance.
  • Stretch regularly: Stretching your calves, hamstrings, and Achilles tendon improves flexibility and reduces the risk of ankle aches. Aim for daily stretches, focusing on the lower leg muscles.
  • Mind your activity levels: Gradually increase the intensity and duration of physical activities, especially if you’re starting a new workout routine. Listen to your body and take rest days. It is necessary to keep track of your regime so that pain doesn’t turn into plantar fasciitis. For that, consider Selphyl Ortho’s guide to PRP for plantar fasciitis and get a better understanding.
  • Warm-up and cool down: Before and after exercise, dedicate time to gentle warm-up exercises and cool-down stretches to prepare your muscles and prevent injury.
  • Ice it down: If you experience pain, apply ice packs for 15–20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Wrap the ice pack in a towel to prevent skin irritation.
  • Elevate your heels: When resting, elevate your heels slightly above your heart level to reduce swelling and promote healing. 

The graph below shows the results of a recent survey that indicated that most people suffer the most from blisters and heel pain caused due to wearing ill-fitted shoes.

 Types of Pain Suffered Due to Wearing Uncomfortable Shoes

Seek Professional Help When Needed

While proactive measures can go a long way, persistent or severe foot aches warrant a visit to a healthcare professional. 

They can diagnose the underlying cause of your pain and recommend appropriate treatment, which may include:

  • Physical therapy: Targeted exercises and stretches to strengthen and rehabilitate your foot and ankle.
  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers or, in some cases, prescription medications to manage inflammation and aches.
  • Orthotics: Custom-made shoe inserts to provide additional support and correct any biomechanical imbalances.
  • Injections: In severe cases, corticosteroid injections may be used to reduce inflammation.

Conclusion: Happy Heels, Happy You!

Remember, your ankles are your partners in movement, exploration, and everyday life. 

By investing in supportive footwear, adopting healthy habits, and listening to your body, you can prevent ankle joint soreness before it starts and keep your feet dancing their way through life. 

So, step up your heel care today and enjoy the freedom of pain-free movement!