8 Exercises to Ease Heel Spur Pain
Heel Spurs are one of the most common foot problems among runners. They cause pain when running or walking on the heels. Some people have it only while others experience it all over their feet even if they don’t run much. There are many reasons why someone might develop heel spurs, but there is no doubt that they do not just happen randomly.
If you want to get rid of them, then here are some simple steps you can take:
1) Get a good pair of running shoes with a low sole.
These will make your legs feel lighter and less tired during your runs.
2) Do not wear high heels while running or walking on the ground.
High heels put pressure on the bones around the heel which causes pain.
3) Avoid wearing tight socks with heavy fabric.
Tight socks cause pressure on the toes and ankles causing pain.
4) Take off your shoes before showering or doing any other physical activity that involves moving parts such as lifting weights, bending over etc.
Doing so helps to loosen up the muscles in your feet and ankles making them less stiff and more flexible.
5) Always rest your feet after running or walking on them for a long time.
This gives the muscles in your feet and ankles time to relax and reduces the chances of pain occurring in the future.
6) Take care when getting out of bed in the morning and avoid putting weight on your feet until you are properly awake and ready to stand up.
This prevents you from pulling a muscle or tripping over while your reflexes are still asleep.
7) Always rotate your ankles a few times every half hour or so whether you are running or not.
This makes the ankle and the Achilles tendon stronger and less prone to injury when running. You can rotate your ankles clockwise and then counter-clockwise to loosen them up.
8) Always stretch before and after you run to prevent pain from occurring in the first place.
Stretching your legs, feet and hips will make them stronger and more flexible and reduce the chances of injury.
There are many different types of heel spurs that can develop in and around the heel bone. They can be either soft or hard tissue and some of them might be even related to other underlying conditions. Soft tissue spurs are easily treated in most cases since the hardier ones might need surgery in order to get rid of them.
Most people don’t know what causes heel spurs to form. They just appear when you are older and generally have no known reason for occurring. Some people however do suffer from plantar fasciitis which causes small calcium deposits near the attachment of the heel spur. These small calcium deposits are the real cause of heel spurs and they can only be removed through surgery if you want to get rid of your heel spur for good.
Heel spurs can cause a lot of pain for those who suffer from them. When they become very large, you might feel sharp stabbing pains coming from the bottom of your feet. This pain can last for long periods of time and become very annoying to deal with.
Heel spurs are generally formed from years of wearing shoes that do not fit properly or cause your feet to move around in an awkward way. Running is also thought to be a contributing factor, however it is believed that the constant stretching of the plantar fascia while running actually helps prevent them from occurring.
Heel spurs are not directly related to running. They are in fact quite common in older people and can be caused through many different activities such as standing or walking for long periods of time, dancing, jumping on hard surfaces etc.
You can only see a heel spur if you remove the plantar fascia that covers it. This is not an uncommon thing to do since some podiatrists do it regularly for diagnostic purposes. You will feel a small “bump” under the skin on the bottom of your foot if you have a heel spur. The bump is actually the top of the spur which can range in size from that of a pinhead to that of a pea.
The only true way to get rid of a heel spur is through surgery. There are a couple of different types of surgery performed but the most common is called a plantar fasciotomy. This is where the fascia that is covering the spur and causing all the pain is cut and then re-attached to ease the tension on that part of the foot.
Sometimes heel spurs will heal themselves over time if you can learn to live with the pain. It can take months or even years for them to disappear naturally but they will go away eventually.
There are many things that you can do for short periods of time to help heel spurs and the pain that they cause. The first thing you should do is rest your feet as much as possible. This means taking frequent breaks from standing or walking and not over doing it in the first place. Elevating your feet when you’re not ambulatory is also thought to help promote faster healing.
Another thing you can do is soak your feet in warm water. Heat treatment is known to help with foot problems and loosening tight muscles and tendons. Soaking your feet two or three times a day will help promote blood flow to the area and get things moving again.
Applying ice to your feet can also reduce swelling. You have to be very careful with this method though since you don’t want to freeze your feet solid. Just ten to twenty minutes once or twice a day will do the trick.
Anti-inflammatory drugs are also thought to help relieve some of the pain and swelling that comes with heel spurs. Over the counter medications such as Ibuprofen will work for mild cases while stronger prescription drugs can be used for more severe pain.
There is some evidence that popping your foot joints can help as well. This can be accomplished by bending your foot upwards as far as you can and holding it for about thirty seconds. You should then lean over and pull your big toe away from your second toe as hard as you can and hold it for another thirty seconds. This will cause your foot to pop and should provide some relief.
Cortisone injections can also provide short term relief from the pain of a heel spur. In extreme cases surgery may be required to remove the spur but this is very rare.
There are a few things you can do yourself at home to help expedite the healing process. The first thing is to make sure that you wear comfortable shoes with adequate support. Running around barefoot or wearing high heels will only make the problem worse and cause more pain and damage in the long run.
The second thing is to stay off of your feet as much as you can. I know this may be hard if you are like me and work a job that requires you to be on your feet for long periods of time. Whenever you can you should try to sit down and if at all possible have someone else do the running around for you. If all else fails, buy a pair of those cheap thongs that women love to wear and use those as your “work shoes”.
Sources & references used in this article:
Painful heel syndrome: results of nonoperative treatment by PF Davis, E Severud, DE Baxter – Foot & Ankle International, 1994 – journals.sagepub.com
Heel pain: A systematic review by EK Agyekum, K Ma – Chinese Journal of Traumatology, 2015 – Elsevier
Clinical characteristics of the causes of plantar heel pain by T Im Yi, GE Lee, IS Seo, WS Huh… – Annals of rehabilitation …, 2011 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Diagnosis of heel pain by P Tu, JR Bytomski – American family physician, 2011 – aafp.org
Correlation of heel pain with body mass index and other characteristics of heel pain by JA Rano, LM Fallat, RT Savoy-Moore – The Journal of foot and ankle …, 2001 – Elsevier