Tips for Heel Pain at Home
Heel pain is one of the most common problems our patients experience. Unfortunately, having to spend more time at home for one reason or another often doesn’t change that.
Believe it or not, a change in routines that keeps you home more often can actually lead to worse heel pain in some cases, or even heel pain developing where there wasn’t any before. We will touch upon some of the reasons why later in this blog post.
But first, remember that any persistent form of heel pain at home is something that should receive professional attention—and through the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain open to help patients with urgent needs such as yours in as safe and low-risk an environment as possible.
However, we also understand that circumstances may not be the best right now for coming to see us. We highly recommend you do as soon as reasonable if you are not already receiving heel pain treatment from us. But in the meantime, you don’t just have to endure the misery!
Here are some tips you can take right at home to try to alleviate your heel pain. Please note that none of these are guaranteed to help, as heel pain can come from many different sources and factors. That’s why it’s so important to see us and determine the best route to relief. But if anything here can help take the edge off—or even fully eliminate your pain—it’s well worth doing.
Wear Your Shoes Through the Day
Many instances of heel pain can stem from excess strain and stress in certain areas of the feet, which can often be caused by abnormalities in foot structure or the way you walk.
If you typically wear supportive footwear (and especially if you use custom orthotic inserts), your feet should be receiving good support through the day. But if the situation changes and you’re spending more time barefoot, your arches have to deal with all that weight and pressure on their own.
Try wearing your shoes indoors for at least a few hours of your day to see if they help ease your discomfort. Even a pair of firm, supportive slippers might help. Stray from anything that is flimsy, like flip-flops, however. Those can do more harm than good.
Massage and Ice (or Both!)
Massaging strained tissues (such as your plantar fascia) can help relieve heel pain. So can cold therapy. So why not combine them into one awesome-feeling treatment?
Just take a good, solid, plastic water bottle and fill it with water. Filling about three-quarters of the way or a little bit more should be good. You don’t want to fill it to the brim, because we’ll be freezing this thing.
Stick the bottle in your freezer and wait for it to solidify. When you want to use it, simply take it out and roll it beneath each foot with firm, deliberate passes. Massage and cold therapy at the same time!
Be sure not to roll barefoot. Having a source of cold directly against your skin can lead to damage. Keep your socks on. You should also be careful to only roll where it would cause no damage to get things a little wet, just in case the bottle leaks. Keep away from anything electrical!
Work Stretching into Your Day
Some stretching and simple exercise can help condition soft tissues (and what connects to them) to handle the excess strain. They can also be an excellent move first thing in the morning to help “warm up” your plantar fascia and lessen that initial shock of pain when your feet hit the floor.
PLEASE NOTE: If for any reason you start to feel pain during any of these exercises, stop what you are doing immediately.
- Towel Stretch. Perfect before you even get out of bed—just have a towel, belt, or resistance band within arm’s reach! Sit upright in bed with your feet out in front of you. Loop the towel/band/belt around the ball of your foot, keeping an end of the strap in each hand. Using your arm strength, gently pull back on the towel/band/belt to flex the top of your foot back toward you, holding this position for 20-30 seconds. Repeat three times with each foot.
- Calf Stretch. Tight calves are a common foe to heel comfort, so stretching them well is recommended. Face a wall and place your hands against it, palms out, with your arms at shoulder level. Step back with one leg, keeping it straight, and then bend forward with your front knee until you feel a stretch in the back of your rear leg. Try to keep your heels fully on the floor, but don’t be afraid to lift them if you need to. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds, repeating up to 4 times with each leg.
- Step Stretch. You will need to stand on step with both your heels hanging off the edge. Do not attempt this unless you have a banister or other sturdy, immovable object to hold onto for stability. When secure, slowly lower your heels beneath the edge of the step, relaxing your calf muscles in the process. This should result in a gentle stretch along the bottom of each foot, as well as up the back of each leg. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then raise your heels back up to the level of the step. Repeat up to 4 times.
Getting the Heel Pain Help You Need, When You Need It
We know these times have not been easy for many of us, but we remain here to help you however we can.