Approximately 50% of the population will experience pain in the heel at some time in their life. Heel pain is most frequently caused by plantar fasciitis.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. The fascia first becomes irritated and then inflamed from over stretching, resulting in heel pain.
People with flat feet or high-arched feet, are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis. Wearing non-supportive footwear on hard, flat floors puts a great strain on the plantar fascia and can also lead to plantar fasciitis. People who spend long hours on the feet are more commonly affected by this painful condition. Being overweight may also contribute to plantar fasciitis.
People with plantar fasciitis often describe the pain as worse when they get up in the morning or after they’ve been sitting for long periods of time. After a few minutes of walking the pain decreases, because walking stretches the fascia. For some people the pain subsides but returns after spending long periods of time on their feet.
What you can try at home:
- Stretching exercises; exercises that stretch out the calf muscles will help ease pain.
- Avoid going barefoot; when you walk without shoes, you put undue strain and stress on your plantar fascia.
- Ice. Putting an ice pack on your heel for 20 minutes several times a day helps reduce inflammation. Place a thin towel between the ice and your heel; do not apply ice directly to skin.
- Limit activities. Cut down on extended physical activities to give your heel a rest.
- Wearing supportive shoes that have good arch support and a slightly raised heel reduces stress on the plantar fascia.
If after 2-3 weeks of these measures you find there is no improvement, consult your doctor.