Prevent and Manage Heel Pain at Home
Are your heels hurting you? Striking fear into your heart before you even set foot out of bed—because you know what’s coming next? Keeping you from enjoying your favorite activities?
First, join the club. Millions of people are in your exact same situation.
Then, leave the club, and don’t come back! Because foot pain is not normal, it is treatable and preventable, and you don’t have to live this way!
In fact, most heel pain conditions can be prevented, treated, and managed right from home—especially if you catch it early. Although this won’t work 100% of the time, it’s a great place to start when the pain first strikes—and it’s a great practice to keep up even after the pain goes away, so that it doesn’t come back.
Here are some of the best strategies to keep the heel pain away:
Be Smart About Shoes
The footwear you choose can make a huge difference when it comes to heel pain. Some shoes will cushion and support your feet properly, allowing you to stand, walk, and even play longer without pain.
On the other hand, the worst shoes will have your heels aching in no time!
For basic day-to-day wear, stick to casual or athletic/walking shoes that fit your feet properly. Avoid things like high heels, ballet flats, or flimsy flip flops. Dress shoes for work are fine as long as they fit and are made with foot biomechanics in mind (arch support, midfoot stabilization, shock absorption, etc.). You can check out our selection of stylish shoes for a great fit!
If you play a sport, you’ll also want a good pair of sport-specific shoes for your activity. Basketball shoes for basketball, trail running shoes for trail running … you get the idea. Matching shoes with activity helps protect your feet from the unique stresses and risks of that sport.
We wrote a blog a while back about how to size and pick good shoes to help prevent foot pain—check it out for more great info.
Opt for Orthotics
Sometimes a great pair of shoes isn’t enough on its own.
That’s because every set of feet is completely unique, and yours may not be structurally well-suited to the basic support features built into most shoes.
If you have flat feet or high arches, for example, you may struggle with foot pain even in the most “comfortable” footwear.
This is where orthotics step in to fill the gap. Your podiatrist (that’s us) will evaluate your foot and gait biomechanics and determine what kind of orthotic is best suited to correcting or accommodating whatever structural or alignment issues you may be experiencing.
This could take the form of a prefabricated insole if the abnormalities are relatively minor, or custom orthotics that are fit exactly to your feet by making a mold.
At Family Foot & Ankle, we also carry a “middle tier” orthotic product called QUADRASTEPS. Although they are prefabricated, they are also doctor-designed and prescribed, and built with features that are more like custom orthotics than the typical prefabs you can find at the drugstore. They are much higher quality than basic insoles and, for many people, a good compromise between quality, performance, and price.
Manage Your Weight
Any time you’re on your feet, those two small structures are supporting the full weight of your body. That could be thousands of steps, for hours at a time.
… But actually it’s more than that, since feet not only absorb the pressure of your body weight itself, but any additional impact forces from the steps you take. When you run or jump, the force load on your feet may be equivalent to several times your own weight.
So it makes sense that the heavier you are, the more pressure you’re putting on your heels and the faster they’re going to tire out and break down.
When you keep yourself at a healthy weight for your height and build, you won’t just have more energy and a lower risk of developing chronic conditions. You’ll also have much happier and more resilient heels!
Adjust Your Training Methods
If your heel pain is linked with athletic hobbies or participation, you may be able to adjust your training and playing routine in order to give your heels a better chance to rest and recover. For example:
- Replace your athletic shoes after they get worn out. For example, runners tend to need new running shoes after logging 300-500 miles.
- Be sure to always warm up, stretch, and cool down whenever exercising or training.
- Seriously, don’t forget to stretch. In particular, regular calf stretches can make a big difference, since tight calves pull on the Achilles and the plantar fascia, which in turn can become tight and inflamed and cause heel pain.
- Cross train in multiple different types of exercise—with a healthy mix of low-impact workouts to give your feet a break. For example, instead of running and jumping activities every day, ride a stationary bike, go for a swim, or hit the weights instead.
- If you like to run, change up your terrain so that you’re running over softer, flatter surfaces.
- Don’t jump into a new exercise program with reckless abandon! Start slow with any new workouts or sports and give your body time to adjust to the new challenges.
Make Your Workplace More Heel-Happy
Do you have a job where you spend most of the day standing? A lot of us do—health care workers, teachers, construction workers, etc. And that, unfortunately, can lead to aching heels by the end of the day.
Some of the best advice for preventing on-the-job heel pain has already been covered above—simply wear better shoes, along with your orthotics if necessary.
However, you may find these tips helpful as well.
- Take regular breaks to sit down, stretch, and wiggle your toes a bit
- If possible, place a stool at your workstation so you can sit for short periods as needed.
- If you can’t use a stool, at least put down a mat or rug. This will provide additional shock absorption for your feet.
Seek Professional Care If Home Care and Prevention Isn’t Working
With the above tips at your disposal, we certainly hope that you’re able to keep heel pain away for good.
However, this isn’t the case for everyone—and if you find yourself unable to avoid pain, make a point to come see us at Family Foot & Ankle Care of Jasper.
We’ve said it a million times, but we’ll say it again: foot pain is not normal. And more often than not, a podiatrist can help you overcome it—usually with conservative measures only.
We’ll get to the heart of what’s causing your pain, whether that’s poor shoes, poor biomechanics, repetitive stresses, or a little bit of all three.
Then, we’ll tailor an appropriate treatment plan to address these causes, in a way that makes sense for your condition and your lifestyle.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Barry and the team here in Jasper, please give our office a call today at (812) 481-7200.