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Heal Your Heel Pain

Heal Your Heel Pain

April 26, 2021
By Next Level Physical Therapy

Pain in your heel can make everyday tasks from walking to standing difficult.  The foot is the foundation of your body and, when not working properly, has the potential to cause a lot of problems.  Issues of the foot need to be addressed as quickly as possible.  

What causes heel pain?

Pain in your heel can be due to inflammation or tiny tears of the Achilles tendon or the plantar fascia;  inflammation of the bursa or a thinning of the fat pad on the bottom of the foot.  

  1. Achilles Tendinitis: The Achilles is the tough cord behind your ankle that attaches the muscles in the back of your lower leg to your heel.  Inflammation of the tendon can result in pain in the lower 1/3 of your leg and the back of the heel.
  2. Plantar fasciitis: The plantar fascia is a thick weblike structure that attaches the ball of your foot to your heel.  It is a shock absorber and a key player in supporting your arch, helping you walk.  With the average American taking at least 4,000 steps a day, it’s no wonder the plantar fascia is the most commonly injured structure of the foot resulting in inflammation, heel pain and stiffness. 
  3. Bursitis: The bursae are fluid-filled sacs located all over your body that protect muscles, tendons and ligaments from shearing over a bone.  They are great shock absorbers, but when they become inflamed lead to motion loss, pain and fear of movement. 
  4. The fat pad protects the heel by absorbing and dispersing the force on the bottom of the foot with any weight bearing activity.  Thinning of this pad decreases the ability of the body to disperse the force and results in injury to the bone.

How do I fix it?

Checking your foot and ankle mechanics is crucial.  Stiffness in the ankle is a major culprit in heel pain.  Poor mobility at the ankle and/or toes puts stress on all four structures that cause heel pain.  Mobility issues also force you to use not-so-optimal compensation patterns at your foot and knee increasing your risk for foot, knee, hip and spine pain!  

Assessing your dynamic foot posture (the position of your foot and toes during activity) will also give you a clue as to the cause and the solution for your pain.  Both a rigid foot or a foot that is too flexible can result in pain, but how you treat each issue can be completely different.  

To reduce your pain immediately: support your arch and heel with proper footwear, orthotics and/or shock absorbing cushions like inserts or heel cups.  Stretch your ankle and toes. Try a calf stretch, toe extension and flexion stretches as well as toe spreading.  Strengthen the foot and ankle with band exercises, heel raises and balance activities.  Seek out the advice of a Next Level Physical Therapist to identify and address the exact cause of your pain and alleviate your symptoms. 

Next Steps If You Have Pain in Your Heel

Not sure what’s causing your pain? Are you ready to be pain-free, footloose and fancy free?  Set up an appointment with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy and Next Level by clicking the “Schedule Now” button or calling our office directly at 661-383-9828. 

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