Heel pain is generally one of those annoying pains that makes it difficult to concentrate on anything else. You are often reminded of the pain with every step causing you to dread movement and fear falling off your once consistent exercise train.
As mentioned in last week's blog, "5 Reasons for Heel Pain that Your MD Didn't Tell You", heel pain is often over-diagnosed as "plantar fasciitis." The assumption that your heel hurts because your plantar fascia is inflamed can cause you to suffer unnecessarily for months. At Juniper PT, we often discover other reasons for your heel pain and can get you back up on your feet and ready to exercise again in a much shorter time frame.
This week, as promised, I am sharing our most common self-care recommendations for your heel regardless if you have plantar fasciitis or something else. Feel free to give any or all of these a try.
If you want to be sciency about it, start with one. Give it a solid effort for 5-7 days and assess how you feel. Keep note of your symptoms and ability to move comfortably. If you notice less pain or greater tolerance to activity, you are heading in the right direction. Don't expect it to be completely gone in that short time frame.
1. Put a heel cup (like THIS one) in your shoes. Put one in each shoe even if you don't have pain on the other heel as it can make your legs uneven.
2. Try these Toe Spacers. These comfortable silicone toe spacers help to naturally stretch your intrinsic foot and toe muscles. When your feet are cramped in narrow footwear, they cannot move as they are designed to. This can cause you to compensate when you walk adding more pressure to your heel or altering how your heel makes contact with the ground.
3. Do some heel and toe movements plus soft tissue work. Remember that some of these specific heel and toe movements can take weeks and even months to gain coordination, control, and benefit. We spend the majority of our life in shoes that confine our feet and toes, causing them to be weak, tight, and uncoordinated. Your foot movement and strength are critical for optimal musculoskeletal health and full-body activity.
4. Strengthen your glutes. Your glutes (aka butt muscles) and your feet work together to maintain balance. If one is slacking, the other must work harder to keep you upright. This imbalance can lead to tissue and joint strain at either location. Try these glute strengtheners to help your feet.
If nothing is changing with one of these, try another intervention. Often, you will find that you need more than one. Finding the right combination for you can be tricky, and figuring this out for you is what we do best at Juniper. If you are lost and need some expert guidance, reach out to us and schedule an appointment today.
If you enjoyed this information and would like to have even more exercise ideas to optimize your body, head to our Juniper PT YouTube channel. We have hundreds of videos organized into a variety of playlists. Check it out, AND be sure to SUBSCRIBE! We add videos regularly.