Tips to Prevent Heel Pain for New Runners

Dr. Corey Fox
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Director of Massapequa Podiatry Associates

The new year has begun and many of us are already giving up on those resolutions we promised to keep. Maybe you planned on sticking to that new amazing diet, and maybe you decided to also stay fit by starting a new running routine. But, alas, the reality of never-ending responsibilities is making sure those five-times-a-week running sessions become something more like once a week – if that!

Perhaps you have been developing some type of discomfort in your heels whenever you do get a chance to go out on those runs or even when you are resting after completing your running routines. Heel pain is actually very common among runners, both for newcomers and experienced runners.

This, of course, comes as no surprise, given the fact that our heels are the first part of our feet which come into contact with the ground whenever we walk or run – our heels naturally take the initial impact whenever we land on our feet and this constant pressure can become a painful nuisance. In the case of most runners, heel pain is usually a result of Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, or Sever’s disease. 

At the end of the day, keeping our new year’s resolution can be hard enough as it is. But don’t let heel pain become yet another obstacle in the way of you becoming the best version of yourself!

There are plenty of ways to prevent, recognize, and treat these painful foot conditions. So, if you want to keep your new year’s resolutions and dreams alive, keep reading and find out how to run this pain straight out of your life.

How to Prevent Heel Pain?

The best way to ensure your running routine won’t be affected by heel pain is to prevent the condition from beginning in the first place. Once the pain starts, the more likely it is to recur. Before you know it, you will have a chronic condition which is harder to eliminate. Because of this, you should always keep in mind that “an ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure.”

Whenever you begin a new running regimen – and even if you have already started a new regimen – you should always follow these steps:

  • Opt for proper footwear –  with orthotics. 
  • Perform stretching exercises every day. 
  • Avoid overexertion – don’t push yourself too hard.   
  • Maintain a healthy bodyweight.   
  • Ease into new activities.   

Achilles Tendinitis

Whenever you develop this type of condition, your Achilles tendon – the strongest tendon in your entire body – becomes inflamed from overuse. If left untreated, this excessive strain can result in injury. So, if you are experiencing pain on the back of your heel during your running routine or immediately after completing your jogs, there is a good chance you have Achilles tendinitis. 

Here are some symptoms to look for:

  • Limited range of motion when flexing your foot.
  • Skin on you heel is unusually warm to the touch.
  • Pain or swelling in the back of your heel.
  • Your calf muscles are constantly tight.

If you suspect that you have developed this problem, there is no need to panic. There are some home remedies you can try to subside the pain. However, if you are still experiencing discomfort within the next 48 hours, it is best to seek the help of a podiatrist.

To treat you Achilles tendinitis at home, try these methods:

  • Reduce – if not altogether stop – your exercise routine for at least 48 hrs.
  • Keep your feet elevated for long periods during recovery time.
  • Wear a brace whenever you walk, stretch, or otherwise apply pressure to the area.
  • Perform gentle stretching exercises.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory to subside the pain.
  • Apply ice to the area.

Plantar Fasciitis

Much like Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis is the result of an inflamed plantar fascia. Our plantar fascia is the connective tissue found on the bottom of our foot connecting the back of our foot to its front. The most common symptoms are:

  • A sharp and deep pain in your heel and/or arch when first getting out of bed in the morning.
  • A sharp and deep pain in your heel and/or arch whenever you stand after siting for long periods.
  • A sharp and deep pain in your heel and/or arch during “push-off” while running.

In this case, there are also at-home-remedies to treat your pain. So, you can sit back and relax – literally – because you will need to be off your feet for a little bit. But, no stressing! You will be back on your feet in no time if you use these steps to nurse your foot back to health.

If plantar fasciitis is ruining your running routine, try doing this:

  • Reduce – if not altogether stop – your exercise routine for at least 48 hrs.
  • Keep your feet elevated for long periods during recovery time.
  • Wear custom orthotics, especially whenever you restart your exercise routine.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory to subdue the pain.
  • Apply ice to the area.

Sever’s Disease

This type of heel pain is more prominent among older children to adolescents. It is the result of unequal growing patterns between the Achilles tendon and growth plates which are anchored to the back of the heel bone. In some cases, the growth plate may mature faster than the tendon which, in turn, causes tugging on the bone.

Some symptoms that may indicate you have developed Sever’s Disease are:

  • Pain, redness or swelling on one or both of your heels.
  • Tightness and tenderness worsen whenever you squeeze your heels.
  • Pain worsens once you begin exercises and immediately after.
  • You experience difficulty walking.

Much like Achilles tendinitis, Sever’s disease is easily treated. At home remedies usually tend to work very well. So, try some of these methods:

  • Reduce – if not altogether stop – your exercise routine for at least 48 hrs.
  • Wear custom orthotics, especially whenever you restart your exercise routine.
  • Perform gentle stretching exercises.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory to subdue the pain.
  • Apply ice to the area.

Still in Pain? We Can Help You!

Of course, we know that even when we take every preventative measure available, heel pain and injury is still very much a reality whenever we chose to be active. So come see us for professional care – we have many treatment options for you, and the good news is that we may even be able to treat your problem with conservative methods. 

So, don’t hesitate to contact our Long Island podiatrist office if you need to schedule an appointment! You can give us a call at (516) 541-9000 or simply complete our online form to connect with us today.
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