Recent trend. Isolation, walking and heel pain.
Updated: May 21, 2020
The discovery of a social loophole is coming at the expense of our feet. During the pandemic, outdoor social catch ups have been legal provided you have maintained your distance and ensured you are doing 'exercise'. This has lead to our poor dogs and feet covering more k's than they are used to. Don't get me wrong, the overall benefits of this generally outweigh the downside. I want to try and help people continue to stay active and enjoy the remaining sunny days we have outdoors. I hope this new way of life sticks, as I think it is highly beneficial for the body and soul.
A common issue we are seeing in the clinic (and often experiencing ourselves), is heel pain.
Although this list does not include everything under the sun that may help, I have tried my best to put together the first simple things that I find help with heel pain coming through the clinic. These are usually the starting point for many Podiatrists when they are treating recent heel pain. Please remember, you should always discuss your issues with a health care professional. When it comes to the feet, a Podiatrist is probably your most logical first point of reference.
1 - Ensure your footwear is in good condition. I tend to recommend a structured runner with a little heel height to it. 2 - If your runners are clean, wear them around the house if you can. Think of runners like a brace. If you hurt your shoulder, you often need a sling. Runners reduce the stress through our feet which may help settle down irritation. Don't worry, it won't be forever.
3 - Consider taking activity down a notch or take a few days off (sorry to be that guy).
4 - Stretch your calves. Aim for the rule of 3's. 3 sets/day, 3 repetitions/set. Hold for 3s. It might not be perfect as per the text books, but making things easy to remember will improve your compliance.
5 - Roll your foot over a ball. (tennis ball, golf ball, 'spikey' ball). Try to do this for 10mins/day
6 - Strength work (videos below). Podiatrists have started to move in to prescribing a lot more exercise. This will typically help people recover from injury/soreness; but also help prevent recurrence or other issues down the track. Aim to do at least 2 sets of 5 repetitions/day. Hold your heel up for at least 3 seconds. I have attached a video of some strength exercises.
7 - You could consider orthotics/supports. Although I tend to not recommend orthotics readily, cases like this can often benefit from a form of support. I tend to recommend softer, less expensive devices as a first option. Statistically they are as effective as the fancy custom devices for heel pains, and are a fraction of the cost. In addition I view them as a 'rehab tool'. Use them for 8-10 months whilst things settle down (and you are compliant with doing the exercises above), and then phase them out. The ones I tend to favor in the clinic you can look at here.
8 - Compression. Compressive garments local to the heel can provide support and help ensure the natural fatty padding under our heel does not displace when we walk. You can look at some options for these here.
**REAL LIFE TIP: Do your stretching/strength work when you are doing boring things, such as:
- in the shower (be careful!)
- brushing your teeth
- waiting for the kettle to boil
- waiting at traffic lights
- waiting in the queue to get in to the shops
- waiting for your coffee to be made
Advanced: (holds weights if you want to make more challenging)