A Heel Pain Tip

Do you have pain in one or both heels when walking for the first few minutes in the morning? There are many causes of heel pain, however an irritation in a fibrous band that spans from your heel to the base of the toes is common. This problem may be a slight nuisance or a more painful condition known as Plantar Fasciitis. This condition can be caused by a relatively sudden change in weight bearing activities such as playing tennis, walking or jogging much more than you are use to. There is pain upon rising in the morning as we usually sleep with our feet pointed downward. When your feet flatten out onto the ground in the morning and you take your first few steps, this fibrous band is pulled taught. It has been shown that the foot undergoes the greatest forces when walking barefoot in the milliseconds just before and just after the heel comes up off the ground (as you are rolling up onto the ball of your foot.) One key reason for this is that the muscles of the calf must work to restrain the forward fall of the entire body. A handy tool that seems to significantly lessen the morning pain associated with plantar fasciitis is to wear a shoe that has a slight cushioned lift or heel for at least a short time after getting out of bed. This increased height, positions the ankle and foot in such as way that they are not required to withstand the force of entire body weight during part of the range as the foot in a flat shoe must. Keep in mind that if you have ten people with plantar fasciitis, you likely have ten completely different strength, range-of-motion, and overall ability levels. A physical therapist can evaluate and design an individualized activity plan for this diagnosis. Finding a balanced combination and doses of rest, weight bearing activities such as walking, arch support, strength and flexibility exercises can set the stage for healing.

Anna Kotula, DPT