Heel Pain
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Heel, ankle and arch pain can affect your health and comfort. Feet that hurt may make it difficult to perform daily tasks and to exercise regularly.

There are many causes of heel, ankle and arch pain but fortunately, there are also highly effective ways to treat them.

The most common cause of heel pain is incorrect foot movement while walking or running. This motion is usually an eversion, turning the foot outward or pronation. This can place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissue surrounding it. An example of incorrect foot movement is excessive pronation: leaning inward as each step is completed. Incorrect foot movement can also be caused by inherited muscle and bone problems as well as external causes such as heel injury or bruising, poorly fitted or worn-out shoes and excessive weight.

Heel pain can be associated with specific medical disorders such as arthritis, bursitis (formation of small fluid sacs), neuroma (a growth resulting from pinched nerves), or stress fractures.

A common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is the band of connective tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot and supports the arch of the foot. Continued foot stress can flatten, lengthen and may eventually cause small tears in the plantar fascia. When the plantar fascia tears near the heel bone, a heel spur may develop.

The pain of plantar fasciitis may occur only during your first few steps in the morning or getting up after sitting for a long period of time. This occurs because when you are off your feet, the plantar fascia is given a chance to rest. Consequently, your first steps may cause a sudden strain to that band of tissue. Although the pain may subside as you walk, plantar fasciitis can be serious and should be treated by a podiatrist.

Plantar fasciitis is often accompanied by a bony growth on the underside of the heel called a heel spur. While some heel spurs are painless, others can be a source of chronic pain. If necessary, your podiatrist can recommend medical treatment to get rid of the pain.

Treatment options include:
Oral or injected anti-inflammatory medication
Physical therapy
Foot taping
Foot exercises such as muscle strengthening and stretching

Stretching Exercises for Treating Common, Painful Heel Complaints & Plantar Fasciitis

Exercise No. 1 Wall Stretch
Lean forward against a wall, keeping one knee straight while you bend the other knee. If both of your heels hurt, then you need to reverse this position after you have exercised one side. If only one of your heels hurts, the painful heel is placed further away from the wall. As you bend forward, the leg that remains straight is the one that you will be exercising. As you lean forward, you can feel your heel cord and the arch of your foot stretch. (Try to keep your heel on the ground, although as you stretch, it will gradually lift off the ground). STRETCH AND HOLD FOR 10 SECONDS. Then relax and straighten up - THEN STRETCH AGAIN. Repeat this 10 to 20 times. If your other heel bothers you, then you should stretch this side as well by reversing your position.

  Exercise No. 2 Water Bottle Stretch
Using a plastic water bottle filled with water, place in freezer until frozen. Then place water bottle on hard floor and put pressure on your foot as you sit and roll heel to toe over the bottle for 15 minutes everyday. If the other foot is bothering you too, switch the bottle to the other side. This will help decrease inflammation and relieve tightness in the plantar fascia.

  Exercise No. 3 Towel Stretch
Using a normal-sized bath towel, roll towel into thin roll horizontally. While sitting down, place towel under one foot's toes. Then straighten knee while holding onto towel with both hands. Stretch toes back and hold for 1 minute. Then switch feet and hold for 1 minute. This will eliminate tightness in the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.

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Dr. Henry Tseng Podiatry
Tel: (626) 330-4866 Fax: (626) 330-7989
We speak English, Spanish and Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese)
We gladly accept most insurance: Medicare/MediCal, private insurance, and referrals from
family doctors.