Don’t Let Heel Pain Hobble Your Goals
We’re a little more than a month into the beginning of the year, which is also about the time you start to see many well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions crash into the ditch. Those packed gym parking lots start to thin out a bit, certainly.
If you are still working hard toward a fitness goal—whether it’s a New Year’s resolution or one you’ve set at any other time—then you’re amazing! And if you have fallen by the wayside, you don’t need a certain date on the calendar to give you permission to try again. These sorts of things can often take a number of tries.
But there is a difference between your goals fading due to lack of motivation, and goals fading because you’re hurting too much to gather the will.
One of the most common problems that can develop in someone who’s striving for increased activity is heel pain. Fortunately, it’s one of the most treatable as well.
If heel pain has been hindering you from reaching your fitness goals, it’s a sign that something needs to change. To understand what, specifically, it’s important to know how such problems tend to arise in aspiring goal-chasers.
The Spirit is Willing, But the Feet are Pained
Heel pain can stem from multiple potential conditions, and each of these conditions can have multiple factors contributing to them. For these reasons, it’s important to determine exactly what is at play in any individual case of heel pain.
Incidentally, this is also why you might try one or two remedies for their pain and get disappointed if they don’t work very well. It’s not that your case is hopeless; it’s that your attempts haven’t been addressing your specific problems!
When it comes to people who experience heel pain after becoming active, there are a couple areas worth investigating first: your level of activity and how capable your feet are of handling it.
Overuse injuries are a significant concern for anyone who has just started becoming more active, or significantly increased their overall intensity of activity.
Our bodies become stronger by enduring the strain of physical activity. This breaks down our tissues on a cellular level. They then rebuild themselves during a period of rest, stronger and able to better endure the demands we place upon them. That’s how working out, well… works!
However, our bodies are conditioned to only take so much stress at a given point. If we force ourselves too hard, too quickly, we can overwhelm ourselves and are liable to cause an injury. Plantar fasciitis, for example, is damage to the thick band of tissue along the bottom of the foot. Another common heel pain-causing injury is Achilles tendinitis, which can cause pain just behind or just above the back of the heel.
Similarly, we can push our bodies, but not provide them enough time to rest and rebuild. In doing so, we keep on breaking ourselves down on a cellular level—to the point where things become so weak as to become injured. Stress fractures, where hairline cracks appear along the surface of a bone, can be caused this way.
So one of the first factors we may consider if you have developed heel pain after starting to exercise is whether you are taking things too intensely. A slower starting pace with a more gradual increase in tempo can set you on a better, more accomplishable path to your goals!
Internal and External Stresses
Sometimes a patient’s workout routine can be reasonable, but there are other factors leading to an increased risk of pain and injury. Some of these may deal with how weight is being distributed across the foot as you move.
Normally, our feet are designed to take on great amounts of force without any ill effects. If something about our foot or ankle structure is off, however, it can lead to excess weight and pressure in certain areas of the feet, making problems such as heel pain more likely to develop.
Flat feet and high arches are potential structural abnormalities that can cause trouble, and other abnormalities or deformities can also be to blame.
Structural issues can also result in gait abnormalities, affecting the way you walk. This can also lead to an improper distribution of weight across the feet. Your choice of footwear can have an influence in helping to provide corrective support for these abnormalities or making them worse.
And if you’re using old, worn out shoes that provide no support for your feet whatsoever, that can play a big role as well!
Finding Solutions to Keep You Moving
If persistent heel pain has been plaguing your attempts to get out and get moving, don’t give up. Come see us for help finding the relief and recovery you need.
We can get to the root of your heel pain problem and recommend the best treatments to get you back in action. These might mean changes to your routines or footwear, like we discussed earlier, but could also include (among others):
- Rest and cold therapy.
- Custom orthotics to provide extra, specific cushioning and support where needed.
- Laser therapy to relieve pain and promote faster recovery.
- Physical therapy.
While you might have to reduce your activity for a bit, it’s a much better alternative that chronic pain and the potential for worse problems to develop! We understand the ambitions of athletes of all types, though, and promise to help you going as fast—and as safely—as possible.
Schedule an appointment with our Roseburg office by calling (541) 673-0742. If you prefer to reach us electronically, you can always fill out our online contact form at any time and a member of our staff will respond to you during our standard office hours.