Ask The Expert: Tom Cooper, Clinical Director at ACE Feet in Motion

Help – My Heels Hurt

Heel pain is a common complaint seen almost daily by many healthcare professionals specialising in the lower limb injury. Evidence suggests that 1 in 10 of us will suffer from heel pain during our lifetime.

What causes heel pain?

There are many conditions that can lead to heel pain, in adults, the most common cause is plantar fasciitis. In children, heel pain is more frequently caused by irritation of the growth plate in the heel bone. Other causes of heel pain in adults include fat pad atrophy, Baxter’s nerve entrapment and Achilles tendinopathy.

What is plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a band of fibrous tissue that connects the heel to the toes. This fascia acts as a supportive structure to the foot and plays an important role in normal foot function. When the fascia becomes damaged, it can lead to pain and discomfort. The most common area of the foot that becomes painful is the heel. Often pain presents towards the inside front edge of the heel. Pain often presents first thing in the morning or after periods of rest, with the first few steps being the most uncomfortable.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

As with any injury, there are often a number of things that can contribute to the onset of plantar fasciitis. With more active individuals, we find that a sudden increase in activity can often lead to injury, for example increased mileage for certain events. Seasonal changes in footwear can also lead to increased stress on the fascia with less supportive summer shoes leading to increased load being applied to the plantar fascia. We also find that certain occupations can lead to increased risk of heel pain such as jobs that require long hours of standing and walking.

I have heel pain, what can I do?

I would always suggest that if you have pain in your feet that you seek professional advice from a HCPC registered podiatrist or healthcare practitioner. Meanwhile, here are a few simple tricks that you can try at home:

  • Make sure your shoes are supportive, avoid flat, flexible footwear
  • Massage your feet or use a tennis ball to roll under your arch and heel
  • Stretch your calf muscles
  • Use a recovery sandal around the house as opposed to being bare foot or in slippers. I would recommend Oofos.

If you are struggling with painful heels, our experienced team of podiatrists at ACE can help. Get in touch via our website or email