Do you suffer from heel pain while walking for long hours or exercising? You may be one in ten women who face this problem! Do not worry, in this article we will show you effective solutions to get rid of heel pain and regain your activity again.
We will talk together about exercises and natural treatments that will help you strengthen the muscles in your feet and relieve pain.
Do not hesitate to read this article to learn everything you need to know about the causes and methods of treating and preventing heel pain. So, follow with us.
In this Article
Heel Pain Causes
In the foot there is a cushion lined with fatty tissue around the heel bone. The cushion maintains its shape and provides protection for the foot structures, including the heel, muscles, and ligaments, despite the pressure and constant movement resulting from the body’s weight. Heel pain is one of the common problems that can affect this cushion and cause a lot of inconvenience.
Heel pain is usually caused by an injury or infection to the heel bone or surrounding structures, causing injury to the nerves that serve the ankle or foot. Common causes of heel pain include:
- Plantar fasciitis
The plantar fascia is a strong, tendon-like ligament that extends from the heel bone to the tip of the foot at the toes. Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain from the bottom. It occurs when intense pressure is placed on the foot, leading to pain and stiffness.
- Achilles tendonitis
It is represented by inflammation of the large, rope-like tendon that connects the back of the heel bone to the leg muscle. Symptoms in this case include pain or burning in the tendon located above the heel, and slight swelling and stiffness may occur in the heel and leg area in the morning.
Achilles tendinitis occurs as a result of fatigue, such as running long distances, not warming up before exercise, or wearing inappropriate shoes.
The Achilles tendon can rupture in rare cases, and this usually occurs during vigorous physical activity such as playing basketball or tennis, in addition to severe pain in the heel.
When inflammation occurs in the back of the heel in the bursa area, a fluid-filled sac forms and causes severe pain. This pain occurs when the heel is exposed to a strong and sudden shock, or due to constant pressure resulting from wearing inappropriate shoes.
In this case, the pain is deep inside the heel or at the end. Sometimes there is swelling and enlargement of the tendons in the heel, and the pain gets worse.
There are uncommon causes of heel pain, including the following:
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
It is a condition that causes pain in the ankle, foot, and sometimes in the toes. As a result of pressure or damage to a nerve and an area in the foot, such as the posterior tibial nerve, symptoms include a feeling of burning or tingling pain.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs more commonly in people who suffer from obesity and who exercise extensively, and this condition may be caused by the use of high-heeled shoes or shoes with thin soles.
- Stress Fractures
These are small cracks in the bones as a result of repetitive physical activity. They cause severe pain in the heel with increasing activity and improve with rest. In addition to the pain, the patient can feel a swelling at the site of the fracture.
Stress fractures occur in people who engage in intense exercise over a short period of time. Repeated training on the heel bone gradually causes it to fracture.
- Haglund’s Syndrome
It is a bony protrusion in the back area of the ankle, and it can lead to the bone being exposed to friction and pressure with shoes. When this bony protrusion rubs against shoes, the soft tissues near the Achilles tendon can become irritated, and this ultimately leads to inflammation of the bursae lining the heel, which is an inflammation in the bursa that contains fluid between the tendon and the bone.
Haglund’s deformity is often referred to as the “women’s shoe bone”; It can be caused by wearing high-heeled shoes with an inflexible back, and any type of shoes that have a rigid back, such as ice skates and men’s formal shoes. In fact, it can cause irritation of Haglund’s deformity and increase pain while walking.
Rare causes of heel pain include:
- Tarsal osteoarthritis: This is a form of osteoarthritis that causes persistent heel pain, often accompanied by fever and fatigue.
- Compressive pimples: They are small, soft pimples that resemble skin color or are white, and are known as “sebaceous pimples.” They occur as a result of the leakage of fat from the deep layers under the skin to the superficial layers of the skin, making them clear and a person can feel them, especially if he is carrying weights, standing for a long time, or excessive overweight, and disappears when the pressure on the foot is relieved.
- Heel bone tumors: These are benign (non-cancerous) growths that usually cause deep pain in the heel that gets worse at night.
Heel Pain due to Wrong Shoes
Wearing the wrong shoes is the most common cause of heel pain, and this occurs largely in people who work a long time, stand on their feet all day, or who engage in high-effort exercises such as running or walking in the mountains.
Lack of support from shoes when standing, walking or running, means that the heel of the foot will receive all the pressure, resulting in injury to the structure of the foot.
The wrong shoes may change your gait, increasing your risk of walking awkwardly, or cause you to roll your feet, causing other problems.
Proper Shoes to Avoid Heel Pain
Shoes should be used for specific purposes and the following specifications should be considered when choosing:
- Support: Shoes must provide adequate support for the foot; To reduce pressure on the heel and Achilles. This can be done by using different types of insoles specially designed for this purpose.
- Flexibility: Shoes should be flexible enough to allow freedom of movement of the foot; This is to reduce pressure on sensitive areas of the foot during movement.
- Internal space: The internal space of the shoe must be spacious enough; To allow freedom of movement of the foot without feeling tight or friction.
- Weight: Shoes should be lightweight to reduce pressure on the foot.
- Quality: You must make sure to choose high-quality shoes made of durable and wear-resistant materials, so that the shoes will last longer and keep the foot comfortable.
- Size: You must choose the appropriate shoe for the size of the foot, as the shoe must not be too large or too small to avoid pressure on the foot.
- Air: Shoes should be designed in a way that allows air to flow inside the shoe to avoid moisture and unpleasant odors.
When Should You Contact the Doctor?
If pain appears in the heel, you can rest at first; To relieve symptoms. If heel pain does not improve within two to three weeks, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
You should contact your doctor immediately if you feel symptoms such as:
- Sharp pain in the heel.
- The pain started suddenly.
- Redness or swelling in the heel.
- You can’t walk because of heel pain.
Questions to Ask the Doctor
You can ask your doctor several questions, including:
- What is the cause of my heel pain?
- What is the best treatment for my condition?
- What can I do to reduce the risk of developing heel pain again?
- What symptoms require urgent evaluation?
By asking about the causes of pain, the best treatments available, and preventing the problem from occurring again, you can better understand your condition, prepare for appropriate treatment, and avoid any serious complications.
Heel Pain Diagnosis
Your doctor and physical therapist can diagnose the cause of your heel pain by talking to you and asking some questions about the nature of the pain, when it occurs, the type of shoes used, and your medical history.
- Blood tests.
- X-ray image.
- Ultrasound examination.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan).
Heel Pain Treatment
Treatment of heel pain depends on the cause of the pain and the patient’s condition, and may include several options, including the following:
Medications to Treat Heel Pain
Analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be used; To treat heel pain and reduce swelling, such as: Ibuprofen and Naproxen.
Steroidal anti-inflammatory injections can be used; To treat heel pain when non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are ineffective. They are injected directly into the heel. However, they must be used with caution and under the supervision of a doctor, as using them for a long time can cause serious side effects.
You should consult a doctor before using any of these medications; To avoid interactions with other medications or certain health problems. You must follow the recommended dosage for each medication, and avoid using medications for long periods without consulting a doctor.
Physical Therapy and Exercises to Treat Heel Pain
Physical therapy can help stretch the plantar ligament and Achilles tendon and strengthen the lower leg muscles, improving ankle and heel stability and relieving any pain in this area.
Additionally, stretching exercises can help relax the tissues surrounding the heel bone and relieve pain. These exercises can be performed in the morning and evening with the aim of improving the condition of the heel and helping the patient feel better quickly, such as:
- Wall-Facing Calf Stretch
This exercise is a stretch for the calf muscle (triceps muscle located at the back of the leg) and ligamentous muscles in the foot, and is an effective exercise to relieve pain associated with plantar tendonitis, helping to relieve pain and improve foot and ankle mobility.
To perform the exercise, you must follow these steps:
1- Stand at arm’s length from the wall with your hands on it.
2- Bend the front knee while extending the back foot with the heel remaining on the ground.
3- Maintain the stretch for 10 seconds.
4- Repeat the exercise 2-3 times on each side.
- Plantar Fascia Massage
Stretching the muscles using the rotation technique, where a circular or cylindrical object is placed under the area to be stretched and then pushed forward and backward in a circular motion, which helps in stretching and relaxing the muscles.
A cold water bottle can also be used, and this technique may be particularly useful; Because the cool surface of the bottle may help reduce inflammation.
To perform the exercise, follow these steps:
- Sit upright in a chair.
- Place a ball or other rolling object under the foot.
- Move the foot back and forth for two minutes.
- Seated Plantar Fascia Stretch
Muscle pain in the plantar fascia can be relieved by applying the seated foot stretch exercise.
- Sit on a chair with your back straight and your feet propped on the floor in front of you.
- Lift the affected foot and pass it over the other leg, until the affected heel is over the other knee.
- Pull the toes toward the shin.
- Place the other hand on the bottom of the foot; To feel the tension in the plantar tendons.
- Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise 2-3 times.
- Seated Toe Towel Scrunches
People can perform exercises such as rolling a hand towel or washcloth with their toes; To stretch the foot and leg muscles, improve foot flexibility, and relieve pain. People can benefit from these exercises when they are done before walking or doing other morning tasks. This exercise is considered simple and can be repeated regularly. It includes the following steps:
- Lie flat, with your knees raised and your feet resting on the floor.
- Place a hand towel or washcloth on the floor next to the feet.
- Use your toes to gather the towel and roll it toward the body.
- Keep the towel in a curled position for 15-30 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise for the other foot.
- Marble Pickups
It is a simple exercise aimed at strengthening the foot muscles and improving balance. It is considered useful for people who suffer from weak feet or people who need to improve their balance; To help prevent injuries. To perform this exercise, the following steps are taken:
- Sit on a chair with your feet resting on the floor.
- Place a group of marbles on the floor, then pick up one marble at a time using your toes.
- It can be repeated 20 times and can be repeated daily to improve flexibility and strengthen the foot.
If you suffer from heel pain, you should consult a physical therapist to obtain an accurate evaluation and determine the appropriate treatment plan. You should also continue to perform the prescribed exercises regularly and under the supervision of a specialist to achieve the best results.
Also read: Nerve Strengthening Exercises
Treating Heel Pain at Home
Several methods can be done at home; To relieve heel pain, which includes:
- Get rest when possible, as it is one of the best options; To relieve heel pain resulting from standing for long periods.
- Apply ice to the heel for 10 to 15 minutes twice daily.
- Use a heel support cushion; To keep the foot straight while sleeping.
- Use over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol, according to the recommended dosage instructions.
- Avoid standing for long periods and walking on hard surfaces.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for foot size.
However, if the pain persists and the symptoms worsen, you should go to the doctor to evaluate the condition and consult him regarding appropriate treatment.
Heel Pain Prevention
Whether you’ve had heel pain in the past or not, there are things you can do; To avoid heel injury, such as:
- Maintaining an ideal healthy weight: Excess weight puts additional pressure on the lower extremities, including the heels.
- Wearing appropriate shoes: It is necessary to wear comfortable shoes that provide adequate support and protection.
- Warming up before activity: This is especially vital when doing intense exercise or running long distances.
- Listen to your body: It is not normal at all if you feel pain in the heel and there is no specific reason for it. So reduce the pressure a little. If the pain returns or intensifies, you should consult a doctor.
Heel Pain Risk Factors
Anything that puts a lot of pressure on the foot can cause heel pain. The way you walk and the shape of the foot are also influential factors. There are several factors that increase the risk of heel pain, including the following:
- Obesity, as excess weight causes pressure on the heel.
- If you suffer from foot and ankle arthritis, flat feet, or high arches.
- You do a lot of running or jumping during exercise.
- You spend a lot of time standing, especially on concrete floors.
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes.
Heel Pain Complications
Heel pain causes various health complications, such as:
- It affects the ability to move, work, and exercise, and can lead to the inability to complete daily tasks normally.
- It may lead to depression and a lack of desire to do the activities you love.
- It leads to irritation and inflammation in the tendons and tissues surrounding the heel, which increases the severity of the pain and makes treatment more difficult.
- It increases the risk of tendon rupture, especially in the case of Achilles tendinitis, which requires surgery in some cases.
- It leads to radial osteoarthritis, which is a chronic disease that requires medical treatment and physical rehabilitation.
- It reduces the level of physical activity and increases the risk of obesity, thus increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
- Untreated Achilles tendonitis can cause damage to the tendons. Over time, the tendons can become detached or ruptured, and this problem may require surgery.
In conclusion, my dear, you may have noticed that heel pain has become a common complaint among women, and it may be a reason for your inability to carry out your daily activities normally.
We learned together about the reasons behind heel pain and how to alleviate and treat it. I would like to assure you that you can avoid or reduce this pain by following a healthy lifestyle and paying more attention to the health of your feet.
Be careful about your ideal weight and make sure to wear comfortable and appropriate shoes. I also advise you to practice exercises to strengthen the muscles of the feet regularly, and do not hesitate to consult a doctor if you suffer from persistent pain.
I wish you good health and wellness, and that you enjoy an active and enjoyable life without any heel pain. My sincere regards and my best wishes to you.
Frequently Asked Questions about Heel Pain
When is heel pain serious?
Heel pain is serious if the pain is so severe that it prevents you from walking or standing. If the pain is accompanied by swelling or redness in the heel, and it gets worse rather than better even with rest and avoiding pressure on the heel.
Do salts cause pain in the heel?
Yes, in some cases. There are other causes such as inflammation of tendons and ligaments, and nerve compression, so salts are one of the possible causes and not the only cause.
What causes heel pain when waking up?
Poor sleeping posture can put pressure on the heel, and the presence of a previous injury or disease in the heel, such as tendinitis, which increases the pain after rest, or sleeping on an uncomfortable bed or inappropriate mattress affects the position of the heel.
You may also like: