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Heel Pain Running

Heel Pain Running

Running is an excellent way to stay fit, but sometimes it can cause heel pain. The heel pain caused by running is often due to plantar fasciitis, structural problems, or impaired movement patterns.

If prompt action is not taken, the heel pain can worsen and cause more problems in the long run. So, it’s essential to treat the underlying cause and take care of the injury. Please keep reading to find out how to avoid the development of heel pain and what to do when it develops.

Common causes of heel pain after running

Many things can aggravate heel pain after running, but it can be initiated by just simple things such as overuse or a lack of ankle mobility. Numerous factors can cause pain, muscle imbalances, and other problems. In some cases, you are more likely to experience these issues if you are obese or have underlying injuries that make running extremely difficult.

Individuals are more likely to develop heel pain after running if their foot structures put too much strain on the plantar fascia. It is a thick ligament present along the bottom of the foot. A condition that is often referred to as “plantar fasciitis’ develops when the plantar fascia is hurt, swollen, and torn (1). Symptoms include a sharp stab or deep ache in the heel or along the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis can be sore for a very long time since the healing response is proportionate to blood flow. People who have fallen arches (flat feet) or very high arches are more likely to have heel pain too.

Other causes include conditions such as:

  • Achilles tendonitis:  Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the back of the heel bone, called the calcaneus.
  • Stress fractures
  • Nerve irritation
  • Retrocalcaneal bursitis
  • Arthritis
  • Excessive pronation

A man holding his ankle with heel pain after running

How to treat heel pain after running

To prevent your heel pain from getting worse over time, you need to treat your injury as soon as possible. To get the best results from home remedies, address symptoms at your earliest. Pain, tension, and inflammation may be alleviated using the following methods:

During flare-ups, give yourself a break and rest your feet. Don’t run or perform any other activity that might hurt for some time. Avoid doing so until your symptoms resolve.

Perform mild foot/calf stretching and strengthening exercises two to three times daily for at least five minutes per session to reduce discomfort and promote joint flexibility (2).

1. Minimize inflammation NSAIDs & Ice

Use an ice pack on your heel and the surrounding region for 20 minutes a few times a day to minimize pain and inflammation. Consider NSAIDs like naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen.

Also consider natural pain relievers, such as:

• Fish Oil Supplements

• Turmeric

• Cloves

Acupuncture and self-massage may also help relieve pain in plantar fasciitis and other running injuries.

2. Use heel pads or orthotic inserts

Add heel lifts, wedges, or padding to the heels to make your shoes more comfortable. Whether purchased over-the-counter or made to order, an orthotic device may help with stability and muscular imbalances.

Additionally, it might prevent your foot from moving excessively or in an inappropriate manner. Don’t go barefoot. This might put a lot of pressure on your feet and aggravate plantar fasciitis(3).

3. Use a night splint or a removable walking cast for your heel pain after running

For a few weeks, you may wear a detachable walking cast to support your foot and ankle if you need to keep off your feet.

There are night splints available that can be used whiile you’re fast asleep, they’ll keep your foot in the proper alignment with the rest of your body.

Heel pain is usually treatable at home and with preventative measures and therapies.

A visit to your doctor or a physical therapist may be necessary if your symptoms of plantar fasciitis do not subside after several weeks. They can determine the root of the problem and formulate an appropriate course of action. Treatments for heel pain and inflammation include corticosteroid injections.

Even though feet and ankles surgery is uncommon, you may be advised to get one depending on your case. To finalize the appropriate treatment for your heel pain, the doctor will recommend imaging tests such as X-rays or other imaging modalities.

If you experience significant heel pain, which makes it difficult to walk, or is accompanied by redness and swelling, you should see your doctor immediately (4).

How to prevent heel pain after running

Even if you’re treating your heel pain, it is imperative to keep taking preventative steps since the underlying reason for your heel pain may persist. This helps prevent the recurrence or aggravation of your symptoms.

1. Change footstrike patterns

To check whether it helps with your heel discomfort, try using your mid- or forefoot as a point of contact instead of your heel. However, this may not be suitable for everyone. Other possible causes of foot pain include excessive pressure on the insides or outsides of your feet.

Make sure to keep in mind that altering your stride pattern may place more pressure on your knee or other areas of your foot, so be careful.

2. Run on a variety of surfaces to prevent heel pain after running

The best way to integrate hills into your training is to run on grass and dirt trails or a synthetic track. Don’t run on concrete or tile floors, which are complex and flat.

Find a pair of shoes that can absorb the shock waves when running on a hard surface (5).

3. Before and after a workout, be sure you stretch

Stretch your feet, ankles, and calves at least twice a day, as well as before and after each run. Golf ball rolls are an easy way to loosen up your muscles. Physical therapy is also a very good treatment option for treating heal pain.

4. Maintain a healthy body mass index

Being obese can subject your lower body, particularly your knees, ankles, and heels, to excess stress when jogging.

When you lose weight, you’ll feel more confident and able to move about more easily. In addition, your body will be able to achieve a more balanced stance, which aids in the maintenance of good movement patterns.

5. Invest in a new pair of running shoes

Get a pair of shoes that support your feet and are designed specifically for jogging.

Look for shoes with solid arch support and a raised heel to reduce stress on the plantar fascia. Taping or strapping your foot is another option. It can not only provide support for the arches but can also protect against shin splints.

Get advice from your podiatrist or physical therapist when in doubt (6).

A man with heel pain when running

The Bottom-line

After each run, pay attention to how your body responds to the exertion and alter your training appropriately. Focus on your running habits. Don’t be afraid to make the appropriate adjustments if you’re experiencing heel discomfort.

An experienced trainer or friend can help you identify any abnormalities in your technique that may be causing heel discomfort. To observe any strange motions, record a video of your jogging.

You should address heel pain immediately if you notice any discomfort. While your symptoms are subsiding, take a vacation from running. If you cannot relieve your heel pain on your own, make an appointment with your doctor to get a custom treatment plan.

Studies –

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25942013/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0958259201906984

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