Dealing with Heel Pain at Home in 2020
It’s been quite a year so far. Many aspects of “everyday life” have been put on hold this year, as our country (and the world) deal with a public health crisis unlike any other in living memory.
One thing that may not be on hold for you, unfortunately, is heel pain at home In fact, some people have even seen symptoms start to increase as the amount of time they spend at home also increases.
Heel pain might seem insignificant compared to more serious health risks, but trust us—it isn’t something you should ignore! No matter the time or place, chronic heel pain keeps you from living your best life and, without treatment, may become worse and worse over time.
While the pace and routines of daily life may have shifted dramatically, your strategies for dealing with heel pain at home haven’t changed nearly as much. Here are a few basics to consider.
Heel Pain at Home Care Strategies
Home care won’t be 100% effective for all people with heel pain, but it can provide significant relief for many. Even if it’s determined that you do need to see a podiatrist for more comprehensive treatment, beginning home care right away in the meantime can still help improve your situation.
Stretch Before You Get Up (and Throughout the Day)
This is a good choice, especially if you find your pain is worst with the first few steps of the morning—a common symptom of plantar fasciitis.
Keep a towel or resistance band near the side of your bed so you can grab it before you even get up. Grab both ends and wrap the band around the ball of your foot, and pull it back to you gently but firmly using your arms. Hold about 45 seconds, then switch feet. Do this 2-3 times per foot. This process can help you “relax” a tightened plantar fascia a bit before you put your full weight on it!
You should also make time throughout the day to gently stretch your feet, ankles, Achilles tendon, and calves. You can even try some massage for your heel and arch, either by using your fingers or rolling a round object (golf ball, foam roller, frozen water bottle) underfoot for a few minutes. (Don’t touch something frozen to your bare skin, however.)
Make Smart Footwear Choices
In many cases, bad footwear—or even the lack of footwear—is a major contributor to heel pain.
If you’ve been hanging on to a worn-out pair of sneakers just a little bit longer than you normally would, for example, it’s probably not offering you the kind of support and cushioning you need anymore, especially if you’re trying to stay as active as possible.
Due to COVID-19, we’re also starting to see patients complaining of heel pain because they’re not really wearing shoes at all anymore. If you lost your job or are working from home, and not heading outside much anymore, you are probably spending the vast majority of your day barefoot. This also means your feet aren’t getting that extra support and cushioning they’re accustomed to.
Make sure that, during any activity outside the home, you’re shod with a pair of shoes that fit you right, are in good shape, and are appropriate (“sport-specific”) for your activity—whether that’s walking, hiking, running, playing tennis, etc.
And if you are finding heel pain tough to deal with despite spending most of your day at home, try wearing a supportive pair of walking shoes (or even sandals with good arch support) indoors as well. You might be surprised how much it helps!
Modify Your Activities
Everybody responds a little differently to the disruptions in routine brought about by the current public health crisis—even if no one you know has personally contracted COVID-19. While some people have become more sedentary, others are more inspired than ever to take up running, go hiking, or do something else physically active.
We definitely encourage you to be active and get plenty of (safe) outdoor exercise. But you also need to do so in a careful, measured way. When you transition too quickly from a mostly sedentary to a highly active lifestyle, or ramp up the intensity of your exercises significantly in a short period of time, your risk of developing both acute and chronic injuries increases significantly.
If increased activity is leading to more heel pain, we recommend taking a break for a few days, then scaling back the pace of your exercise until you’re at a level you feel you can sustain without pain. Then, try to limit the week-to-week increase in the duration or intensity of your workouts by no more than 10-15 percent.
You should also try to mix up your activities so you aren’t constantly performing high-impact workouts. Your body needs “rest days” to rebuild the micro-damage you do to it during exercise. For example, instead of going for a long run almost every day, run fewer days and do low-impact exercise (such as swimming or cycling) on your “rest” days.
By doing different types of activities and working different muscle groups while giving others a break, you can make faster gains and maintain higher fitness levels while also reducing your injury risk.
Don’t Be Afraid to Give Us a Call
As we said, home treatments can be extremely helpful, but may not be able to fully eliminate all forms of heel pain. For example, you may have a fundamental structural issue with your feet that cannot be fully accommodated or fixed simply with better shoes or different activities.
Heel pain is often more complicated than it seems due to the large number of possible underlying causes that can produce a similar set of symptoms. Only by identifying the causes that are specific to you can we put together an optimal treatment plan.
At Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma, we can offer you:
- Foot and ankle doctors who specialize in heel pain, and who always take the time to listen to their patients, get an accurate diagnosis, and personalize an effective treatment plan.
- A wide variety of effective treatment options, including advanced options like shockwave therapy, to give you the absolute best chance of speedy recovery—without surgery.
- A commitment to keeping you and your loved ones safe from unnecessary exposure risk from COVID-19, including offering telemedicine appointments and maintaining rigorous health and safety standards for in-office care.
Don’t sit around waiting for heel pain to get better on its own! This will probably only make things worse in the long run.
If your pain is keeping you from enjoying daily life or performing normal activities, or you simply find that your home treatments aren’t offering sufficient relief, give us a call today at (405) 418-2676 so that we can help you. You can also request an appointment online.
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