Even tiny changes to your routines can have significant impacts on your body over time—especially when heel pain and overall foot health are involved. Of course, we almost never see changes on such a huge and wide-spread scale as we’ve seen through the COVID-19 pandemic! So many people’s daily lives have been thrown for a loop. And even though, in most cases, this means staying at home more often, it might be surprising to learn that such a change can contribute to worse or more frequent heel pain.
We will get to some of the potential reasons why throughout this blog, but there’s one thing that should be clear from the start: If you find yourself enduring persistent heel pain, regardless of its severity, you should call us at your earliest opportunity. Heel pain can arise from multiple different conditions and factors. Determining exactly what they are and properly addressing them is the best way to find relief. Not doing so risks the problem becoming worse or longer-lasting.
We remain here for you to provide help for heel pain, and are following all CDC-recommended protocols to provide a clean and low-risk environment for all our patients and staff. That said, we also understand that not everyone is able to see us right now. Until you can come to see us, we certainly don’t want you to suffer any more than you need to! Here are a few simple tips that might help reduce the intensity or frequency of your heel pain.
Please keep in mind, however, that not all of these tips may be effective in all cases. That’s simply the nature of having so many different causes of heel pain!
Say Hello to Your Shoes Again
If your new routine means a lot of time spent at home, it likely means a lot less time spent in your shoes. If you have good, supportive shoes and don’t subject your feet to the nightmares present in many kinds of “work” footwear, they have probably done a great deal toward reducing the cumulative stresses on your feet throughout the day. And if you have been prescribed custom orthotic inserts, that’s an even more effective measure for your foot comfort! (As long as you’re wearing them, that is.)
Although you might be moving less during this time, the extra stress on your feet can still add up in ways that contribute to your heel pain. Your feet may very well be missing that extra support you once had as the days go on. Try giving your most supportive shoes a good cleaning and wearing them inside the house—at least for a few hours per day—to see if it has an effect on your comfort. You might be surprised at the difference you feel, especially if you have hardwood floors!
Stretch Throughout the Day
Many heel pain conditions, including the infamous cause of morning heel pain that is plantar fasciitis, are influenced by internal stresses. In other words, your heels can hurt so much in the morning because your plantar fascia hasn’t “warmed up” yet. It is also possible for connected muscles such as your calves to be applying tight pressure on the heel bone and plantar fascia. By incorporating stretching and light exercise into your day, you may be able to reduce pain by conditioning these areas.
Here are a couple of exercises to try, and we can help you determine others that would be ideal for your needs. Always move within the range of your ability, and stop any exercise immediately if you begin to feel pain.
- Morning Point and Flex. Sit upright in bed with your legs out in front of you. Flex your toes, pointing them down as far as you comfortably can, holding for a few seconds. Return to your original position, then flex your toes back up as far as you can, holding for a few seconds before returning to start. Repeat 10 times.
- Calf Stretch. Stand at arm’s length from a wall, raising your arms to shoulder level and placing your hands flat against it. Take a step back with one foot, keeping the leg straight. Slowly and gently bend your front knee forward, leaning into the wall. You should feel a stretch along the back of your rear leg. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then release. Repeat three times with each leg.
Give Yourself a Cold Massage Break
So a “cold massage” might not sound all that appealing at first, but give this a chance. The combination of gentle pressure and cold therapy can be quite effective, and you likely already have what you need already in your home!
Take a plastic water bottle (the sturdier the material, the better) and fill it up with water, leaving a decent amount of space for the water to expand into. Stick it in the freezer and wait for it to turn into an ice bottle. When you want to give your heels some relief, just have a seat and roll the frozen bottle beneath your feet. You could roll with a tennis ball or foam roller instead if you prefer, but we find the chill adds an extra dose of relief.
Two warnings: Don’t roll anywhere that shouldn’t get wet, in case the bottle leaks, and keep your socks on when rolling. Never expose your skin directly to sources of cold or you risk damaging it.
Find the Heel Pain Help You Need
We hope some of the tips above have a positive effect on your situation. But if your pain continues, regardless of whether it has improved or not, please do give us a call. Our office in The Woodlands is running and happy to hear from you. Give us a call at (281) 292-7000 or fill out our online contact form to reach out to us.