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Most Common Types of Heel Pain

Heel pain is quite a common issue for runners, both for newcomers and experienced runners.

Your heels take the initial shock when you land on your feet, each and every time.

For many people, landing on their heels seems natural, but more and more studies show that mid-foot landing is better (see more at the end of this page).

The constant pressure on your heels is sometimes too much, because of which you get heel injuries.

In this article I will discuss the following heel injuries:

  • heel spurs

  • plantar fasciitis

  • pain in the bottom and the back of your heel
  • .

    Running Injuries

    Heel Injury #1: Heel Spurs

    Heel spurs will cause pain in the arch of the foot and in the front of your heel. The pain will likely be most acute when you first rise in the morning and try to take a step.

    The pain can also be more acute after sitting for extended periods. The pain is felt at the front part of your heel, where the arch and the heel meet.

    The heel spur is likely caused by straining the fascia, which forms the arch in the foot. With this strain, the fascia have literally been ripped off of the bone of the heel. This will cause some blood to remain in the area.

    With time, these drops of blood calcify while sitting on the bone. This calcification has caused an extra little bone to form. This little bone is known as a heel spur. This pain that is felt is not to the heel spur itself, but to the fascia and flesh that surround it.

    How to Treat and Prevent Heel Spurs
    See below under Plantar Fasciitis.

    Heel Injury #2: Plantar Fasciitis

    Plantar fasciitis is one of the single most common heel pain complaints. Its unwelcome arrival is signaled by acute pain at the front of your heel or along the arch. There may be significant pain when you initially get out of your bed.

    It hurts a lot to walk on it first thing in the morning. Expect the same thing to happen after you have been sitting for a long time.

    Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are almost the same and often used as synonyms for each other. To determine if you are actually experiencing plantar fasciitis, press really hard with your thumb on the center of the heel. If the pain is felt at the center, it is indeed plantar fasciitis.

    In the foot, the arch is formed from fascia. Fascia connect the ball of the foot to the heel bone. Plantar fasciitis occurs as a result of your body weight moving through the arch in such a way that the arch is flattened or overstretched.

    In the most extreme of cases the arch will lose its flexibility completely and will no longer spring back. This resulting condition is known as fallen arch or flat feet. Plantar Fasciitis can be aggravated by excessive running or running on the balls of the feet.

    How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis
    To relieve the condition cut back on the running or stop running for a while. Since plantar fasciitis is really inflammation in the fascia, anti-inflammatories will likely reduce the swelling. Immediately after you finish running apply ice to the area; ten minutes on and then ten minutes off, repeating this one more time.

    Another way of treatment is corticosteroid injections. These give longer relief.

    It is a good idea to provide added support to the arch. First, try arch strapping. If this does not help, use arch supports. This will reduce some of the burden on your heel. It will raise the arch, providing the fascia with some needed slack. That way the arch won't have to stretch very far.

    Some products to deal with heel spurs / plantar fasciitis
    There are some products available which can help in the battle against plantar fasciitis. A good choice is a heel spur kit which combines a number of products together.

    heel pain

    Heel Injury #3: Pain in the back and bottom of the heel

    Pain in the bottom and back of the heel, also known as Apophycitis of the heel, is heel pain that often occurs in runners under the age of twenty and is most common among children around age eleven. The pain radiates up the backside of the heel. If you were to get a hold of the heel and give it a hard squeeze, the pain would be intense.

    The heel bone may not fully fused until after adolescence. Until then it is in two separate pieces. If you are less than the age of twenty and have been regularly running long distances, these two bones may have separated before they fully fused.

    How to Treat Pain in the Back and the Bottom of the Heel
    To relieve this sort of heel pain, try strapping the heel with adhesive tape. Simply put one piece of tape around the bottom part of your heel towards the front, and then another strip around the back toward the top, going from your inner anklebone all the way to your outer anklebone.

    The next step is to place another strip of tape to the bottom, right behind the first piece. Be sure to overlap them by about 1/2 an inch. Do exactly the same thing at the backside of your heel. Continue adding tape, and alternate between the back and bottom part of the heel. You should also wear heel pads. Depending on the severity of your injury you may have to stop running for a few weeks or even months.

    It is not uncommon to feel some heel pain when you are a runner.

    You can learn to identify the most common sources of heel pain and treat some of them yourself.

    Others are best left to a qualified podiatrist.

    Do not forget to also check out my heel spur page.

    Wish to get more running tips?
    Subscribe to the Best Running Tips Newsletter or to my site blog.

    Go from Heel Pain Page to Running Injuries Page

    Go from Heel Pain Page to Best Running Tips Homepage

    Running Injuries
    Running Injury Prevention
    Foot Injuries: Foot Pain | Black Toenail | Stress Fractures | Posterior Tibial Tendonitis |
    Heel Injuries: Heel Pain | Achilles Tendinitis | Heel Spur / Plantar Fasciitis |
    Knee Injuries: Knee Pain | Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB) |
    Leg Injuries: Leg / Calf Cramps | Shin Splints | Hamstring Injury | Hip Pain
    Upper Body Injuries: Nipple Chafing | Side Stitch | Back Pain | Chest Pain

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