Johns Hopkins Health Alert
7 Simple Steps to Help Soothe an Aching Heel
Is heel pain giving you trouble? You’re not alone. In fact, it’s the leading reason people see foot and ankle specialists. A number of different ailments can lead to heel pain. But the most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the plantar fascia (the thick, fibrous band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the base of the toes).
The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is very tight calf muscles, which limit how far you can flex your ankles. This can lead to overstretching of the plantar fascia (whose main function is to support and stabilize the arch of the foot), causing the tendon to thicken, lose flexibility, and weaken.
Luckily, plantar fasciitis usually heals itself -- within 10 months of the onset of symptoms for approximately 90 percent of sufferers (if you can determine and stop the cause of the pain). And plantar fasciitis is very amenable to self-treatment. Below are seven simple therapies you can try to soothe your plantar fasciitis:
- Stretch your calf muscles/Achilles tendon. Leaning on a table, place one foot six to twelve inches in front of the other. Slowly squat, keeping both heels on the floor. When the heel of the rear foot starts to lift and you feel the stretch across the bottom of that foot, hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat this motion 10 times, then switch legs and do the same with the other foot.
- Stretch your plantar fascia first thing in the morning. Sit in a chair and cross your legs so the affected foot rests on the opposite knee. Then grab the base of the toes and pull toward the shin, so you feel the stretch across the sole; hold for 10 seconds.
- Limit your activities and keep weight off your feet when possible. Continue to exercise, but avoid high-impact activities such as running or rigorous walking. Try cycling or swimming, instead.
- Try over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen.
- Make sure your shoes are comfortable and well-cushioned, especially around the heel. Avoid wearing thin-soled shoes or walking barefoot when possible. For extra support, you may want to try over-the-counter shoe inserts or heel cushions, available at your local drugstore.
- Ice your heel and regularly massage your foot or roll it over a tennis ball to help ease pain. To combine icing and massage, roll your heel over an ice-filled plastic jar or a can of frozen juice concentrate.
- Do toe-strengthening exercises, such as picking up a towel with your toes.
Posted in Healthy Living on November 10, 2010
Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Disclaimer
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