The most common cause of heel pain is a condition called Plantar Fasciitis. This means inflammation of the Plantar Fascia. The Plantar Fascia is the broad band of fibrous tissue that runs under the foot and that is responsible for the spring action of your arch. For many different reasons, the plantar fascia is being over stretched and this continuous pulling results in inflammation and pain to the heel area, at the point where this tissue inserts into the heel bone. Over-pronation of the feet or what most people consider to be fallen arches, or a rolling inward of the feet and ankles, tight calf muscles, as well as ageing, and being overweight are the main causes for the plantar fascia being over stretched. Other reasons include poorly fitted footwear that is lacking in proper arch support, and movements to the foot that you aren’t use to like excessive walking on vacation, or climbing ladders without proper footwear, or taking up a new exercise.
There are many ways to treat heel pain, heel spurs and Plantar Fasciitis, including cortisone injections and surgery. However, in most cases Plantar Fasciitis relief can be achieved through self-help by following a number of easy, simple steps, done at home, most of which are aimed at reducing the pulling of the plantar fascia and aimed at speeding the heeling process.
1. Rest and reduce your activity. When you have Plantar Fasciitis avoid any activity that can further aggravate the problem. This includes walking for long distances, walking up or down stairs, running, sports etc. If you want to keep fit swimming is the safest activity, until your heel pain has been treated properly. Or you can ride a bike. Basically, try to be on your feet as little as possible, allowing the plantar fascia to heal itself.
2. Ice/heat therapy. Use an ice pack and apply it to the sore heel for 15-20 mins at a time, 3 to 4 times per day. The ice will reduce the Plantar Fasciitis inflammation in the heel area. To help reduce any chronic inflammation, you can try alternating between ice and heat. Place an ice pack on the heel for 15 to 20 minutes and then switch to a hot pack (or hot water foot bath) for another 15 to 20 minutes. Do this for about 2 to 3 per day and you’ll notice some considerable heel pain relief.
3. Roll a tennis ball (or rolling pin) under the foot. Many people with Plantar Fasciitis experience a sharp heel pain in the morning, when taking the first steps after getting out of bed. This pain comes from the tightening of the plantar fascia that occurs during sleep. Stretching and massaging the plantar fascia before standing up will help reduce heel pain for the rest of your day. You may do this sitting down, applying a fair amount of pressure onto the arch, or even standing up as long this causes not too much discomfort. Keep rolling the ball or rolling pin under the foot for about 5 minutes.
4. Towel stretch. Using a bath towel, roll the up towel under the ball of one foot, holding both ends of the towel with your left and right hand. Next, slowly pull the towel towards you, while keeping your knee straight as you can. Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat 4 times and change to the other foot, if necessary. It’s always good to do these exercises on both feet, even if you only experience heel pain in one foot, as this will help prevent the heel problem in your other foot.
5. Stretch your calf muscles. Tight calf muscles are a major contributing factor to Plantar Fasciitis. Therefore this particular heel pain exercise is very important. Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at about eye level. Put one leg about a step behind your other leg, keeping your back heel flat on the floor. Make sure this leg stays straight at all times. Now bend the knee of the front leg slowly, lowering your body until you feel a stretch in the calf of the back leg. Hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat 4 times. Do the same for the other leg.
6. Please make sure you don’t walk barefoot , as this will undo all your hard work and aggravate your plantar fasciitis. Wear shoes or supportive sandals as soon as you have done the heel pain exercises. Wear supportive footwear of some kind all the time. Never ever go barefoot. Remember too, the firmer the shoe the better. You do not want a soft cushy shoe as this will allow for stretching of the fasica. The firmer the better. My favorite shoe for never going barefoot is the Haflinger Grizzly. It is a German made shoe with a cork comfort footbed and a replacable outdoor sole. http://www.endless.com/Haflinger-Torben-Grizzly-Leather-Trim/
7. The Achilles Tendon stretch. Stand on a step with both feet on the same step and slowly let your heels down over the edge of the step as you relax your calf muscles. Hold this stretch for about 15 to 20 seconds, then tighten your calf muscle by bringing your feet up and standing on the ball of your feet. Repeat 4 to 6 times. Please note that stretching exercises should create a pulling feeling, they should never cause pain.
8. Use a night splint when you sleep. A night splint in vital for proper healing of the Plantar Fascia. A night splint holds the foot at 90 degrees during your sleep. The aim of the splints is to keep your foot and calf muscles stretched during the night. Normally during rest the plantar fascia and calves tend to relax and shorten. So when you wake up in the morning and take your first steps, the fascia are being pulled all of a sudden, causing the sharp pain in the heel. Choose a night splint like the one at http://walkezstore.wpengine.com/index.php?page. It is affordable and very comfortable compared to many others on the market.
9. Take an anti-inflammatory drug, like Ibuprofen. To ease Plantar Fasciitis and heel pain you can take an anti-inflammatory that contains Ibuprofen, like Advil. This is a short term fix that will help decrease the inflammation of the plantar fascia. You still need to take all the other measures such as stretching, ice, orthotics etc to achieve long term pain relief from your heel problem. For many people Ibuprofen is pretty heavy on the stomach and therefore these drugs should be taken in moderation. If in doubt, please consult a physician.
10. If you are overweight lose some weight. As we get older we tend to put on a bit of extra weight. The combination of weight gain and ageing means we put a lot of extra tension on our muscles and ligaments in the feet, legs and back. Most people tend to over-pronate because of weight gain. Over-pronation and hyperflexible flat foot is the main cause of Plantar Fasciitis and heel pain. Therefore by losing weight you will decrease the tension on the plantar fascia.
11. Wear the right footwear. Supportive footwear is paramount, especially as we get older. Floppy footwear causes ankle instability during walking and contributes to the problem of over-pronation, leading to heel pain and other foot problems. A good supportive shoe should only bend at the sole in the forefoot area and should be firm elsewhere, especially the back section of the shoe (heel counter) should be firm. Many footwear companies advertise shock-absorption and cushioning as the major benefits of their (sports) shoes. Stability is far more important than cushioning when dealing with the pain of Plantar Faciitis.
12. Wear bio mechanically designed orthotics. Research has shown that by far the most effective way to treat heel pain or plantar fasciitis is by using a corrective device inside the shoe like the ezWalker Custom Orthotic found at www.walkezstore.com. A good orthotic is designed to correct the problem of over-pronation, the major cause of plantar fasciitis and heel pain. The ezWalker Custom Orthotic is designed to support and control the hind foot, thereby greatly reducing the tension in the plantar fascia band and allowing the forefoot to follow in a more desirable bio mechanical balance for toe off. Especially when combined with daily exercises, ezWalker Custon Orthotics will provide relief to the majority of heel pain sufferers. ezWalker Custom Orthotics can be obtained from The Walkezstore.com no matter where you live. The Walkezstore.com has developed a vidoe training system that teaches you how to do a proper bio mechanical impression process of your feet so you can receive a the best quality orthotic on the web. No where else will you find this kind of quality and craftsmanship for just $249. And it comes with a 90day 100% money back guarantee. BETTER IMPRESSIONS MAKE BETTER ORTHOTICS. You’ve go nothing to loose but your pain.
So remember, if you suffer from heel pain and want to heal it fast, follow the advice of the recommended exercises, sleep in a night splint, don’t go barefoot, and get yourself an ezWalker Custom Orthotic. You can’t afford not to because…When your feet feel good you feel good.