Heel Pain Ruining Your Run? Take this Advice!
Whether you are just starting out or a veteran of the trails, running can develop into something you just don’t want to give up. The inner peace of a steady routine, the rush of endorphins through the body, the satisfaction of new personal bests being broken—it’s all great stuff that’s good for you!
That is why, when heel pain starts to creep into the picture, many runners veer off into fear or denial.
Pain and discomfort is one thing, but the most frustrating (and frightening) thing is the thought of not being able to run anymore—or as much as you would like. That once-wonderful time to throw off the burdens of the day gets its own burden thrown upon it!
It’s not surprising, then, that so many runners try to convince themselves that nothing is happening; that the pain will eventually go away and they just “need to work through it.” But this just makes things worse in the long run.
We won’t lie: heel pain takes some attention to get through—and any form of consistent heel pain should be examined by us right away!—but taking steps now to reduce and prevent pain can make for much more pleasant running down the road.
Review Your Running Situation
A common cause of heel pain in runners stems from overuse. In other words, you are pushing your body harder than it is currently conditioned to endure.
While it is of course good to give your body some challenge—that is how we grow stronger, after all—a measured approach will help prevent injuries such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis. It’s not all about just how fast you’re trying to go, either. Consider:
- Are you giving yourself rest days? Your body must be given enough time to recover and rebuild from exertion; otherwise, you are literally wearing yourself down.
- Are you increasing your intensity too much, too soon? A good general rule of thumb is 10% more distance or time per week. However, if you are feeling this increase is too much, you can always dial it down.
- Are you doing too much hill work? Hills—both up and down—can place extra strain on areas of the feet, which can increase risk of injury. Hills need conditioning work just like normal running does.
Are You Warming Up?
Warming up properly before a run can also reduce the risk of heel pain. A good warm-up should not only include a few minutes of stretching, but a few minutes of light, dynamic jogging as well.
One area you may wish to focus on is the calf muscles. In many people, the calf muscles can be shorter or tighter than what is ideal. This can lead to the muscle pulling more on the heel bone, which can lead to heel pain. Taking time to gently stretch and condition those calves can pay off!
Is Your Footwear Providing the Right Support?
The only shoes you should be wearing for running are running shoes, and the more supportive they are of your feet, the better.
If you’ve had your current pair for 300-500 miles, or they’re causing your feet pain no matter the mileage, it’s time to ditch them for a new pair. There may be comfort in familiarity, but the more the treads and materials are worn out, the worse it will be for your feet and heels.
Some runners may require more arch support than others, based on the shape of their feet and their gait. While you can try to figure this stuff out yourself, a trained associate at a good running store should be well equipped to help you determine these factors and recommend the best shoes for you.
(And, of course, we can also help!)
Do Not Let Heel Pain Persist
If your heel pain remains consistent, do not continue doing what you are doing. It’s time to give us a call and get to the root of the problem.
In some cases, recovery from heel pain may involve a temporary rest from activity. This might go against your nature, but it’s very important for getting back into running with no hindrances or chronic issues.
If shoe and routine changes are not enough, we may need to consider additional treatments and options. These may include the use of custom orthotics for additional support and gait correction, physical therapy in the form of specific exercises and stretches, and shockwave therapy to encourage pain relief and accelerated natural healing in damaged soft tissues.
There is no wisdom in expecting your heel pain to just magically disappear without change, or to think you just have to grit your teeth and bear it. We can help you find the best solutions for your needs and fitness goals!
Give us a call at (405) 418-2676 to schedule an appointment at our Oklahoma City or Moore offices. If you prefer to contact us electronically, please feel free to fill out our online contact form and a member of our staff will reach out to you.
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