Having to stay indoors more often can bring its share of stresses. Aside from potential concerns about work and the world, one can only do so many jigsaw puzzles.
One area that might not be getting as stressed as before is your heels, but changes in routine can have surprising effects on our feet. Some of you might be finding your heel pain flaring up more now that you are staying closer to home, or even developing new heel pain when there wasn’t any before.
If you are having any sort of heel pain that is persistent, especially painful, or getting in the way of enjoying your daily life, we highly recommend contacting us about it.
Causes of Heel Pain
Heel pain can come from a large variety of different underlying problems, from overuse to footwear to abnormalities in your foot structure. Identifying and properly addressing these problems now can help prevent your pain from becoming worse or more complicated to treat over time.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still seeing patients in our office for urgent needs, and heel pain troubles can be considered as such! We are going to great lengths to create as sterile and low-risk an environment as possible for our staff and patients.
We also understand if you have reservations about coming in at this time, though—or find an in-office appointment simply isn’t in the cards. We are more than happy to meet with you through a virtual appointment instead, getting an initial understanding of your case and a head start in taking steps toward relief.
Whether you are seeking help in office or through telemedicine, though, you shouldn’t feel that there isn’t anything you can be doing right now to help yourself find some potential relief!
We will be describing a few easy tips for trying to relieve heel pain at home. Keep in mind, however, that this advice can have different levels of effectiveness for different people. It all goes back to how heel pain can stem from so many different reasons, so something that may significantly help one person might not do much of anything for another.
And even if you do find significant relief from your heel pain through some of these techniques, still contact us if the pain hasn’t fully gone away. There is very likely more we could do for you!
Start (and Continue) Your Day with Stretching
If you have heel pain first thing in the morning, as soon as you set your feet on the floor, it is likely that you are suffering from plantar fasciitis.
The reason it hurts so badly for the first few minutes each morning is that the plantar fascia—a thick band of tissue that runs along the underside of your foot—was at a period of rest for a long time. Starting to move it again is making it stretch, aggravating the microtears it has developed.
By taking some time to stretch the feet and plantar fascia in the morning, you can help lessen that initial jolt of morning pain. A great type of stretch for this is the Belt Stretch, and you can perform it right in bed!
As its name implies, you will need a belt for this stretch—but a folded towel or resistance band can also easily be used.
- Sit in bed with one leg out in front of you. Place the belt, towel, or band around your foot, against the ball of your foot and the toes.
- With an end of the belt in each hand, slowly and gently pull the top of your foot toward you. Use your arm muscles more than your foot muscles for this flex.
- Hold for 45 seconds, repeating 2-3 times per foot.
Another potential cause of heel pain is tight calf muscles pulling on the Achilles tendon, heel bone, and plantar fascia. Keeping calf muscles stretched and conditioned may also help lessen heel pain over time. Here’s a simple stretch that only requires access to a wall—something we’re sure we’ve all been seeing our fair share of lately.
- Stand facing the wall, placing your hands with palms flat against it for support. Your arms should be around shoulder level.
- With both feet pointing straight ahead, take a step back with one foot, holding the leg straight.
- With your other leg, slowly bend forward at the knee. Keep both heels on the ground if you can, but it is OK to lift them if you need to. Shift until you feel a stretch in the calf muscle of the back leg.
- Hold this position for 30-45 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times with each leg.
There are further stretches that may help you, and we would be happy to discuss them with you!
Keep Your Shoes On
We know there’s a big “shoes off” policy in many homes, but that could be making a big difference to your comfort.
If you used to spend much of the week in supportive shoes at work, the lack of support now could be causing problems now in the long-term. This can especially be the case if you wear custom orthotic inserts in those shoes, too!
If your heel pain is flaring up at home, consider keeping your shoes on for at least a few hours each day. Clean them up first, of course, so nobody yells at you for tracking in dirt. It’s a worthy experiment to try, and can tell us a lot about your situation when you come in to see us.
Take Time to Massage and Chill
When your heels ache, it pays to have an option to turn to right at that moment. Both cold therapy and massage can be effective, and there is a way to combine them into one!
Simply fill a water bottle most of the way with water and set it in the freezer. When you want to use it, take out the ice bottle and roll it firmly beneath each foot. It feels great!
When you do roll this way, make sure it’s not somewhere that shouldn’t get wet, such as around power cables. Also, never place bare skin on a direct source of cold. Keep your socks on for this to help prevent skin damage.
Get the Help You Need for Your Heel Pain
We hope these tips can provide at least some relief through your day. But remember we’re here for you to provide even further help and professional treatment.
Call us at (516) 541-9000 or fill out our online contact form to reach our Massapequa office.