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7 Simple Steps to Help Soothe an Aching Heel

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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: 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. Try over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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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Health Alerts registered users may post comments and share experiences here at their own discretion. We regret that questions on individual health concerns to the Johns Hopkins editors cannot be answered in this space.

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According to research, aching feet can be caused by several factors. One of these is due to standing or walking for long periods of time, which places too much pressure on the soles.

People with fallen foot arches, or otherwise known as over-pronated flat feet, are also susceptible to experiencing foot arch pain. This is caused by the extra effort and energy that they need to exert just for them to walk normally.

Aching feet can also be aggravated when a person wears ill-fitting or poorly-padded shoes. Wearing of tight socks or stockings with narrow and tight elastic is also a contributing factor in developing aching feet. This is due to the constriction of the vessels, which prevents proper blood circulation in the area.

Posted by: allendbrook | September 5, 2012 2:42 AM

According to research, aching feet can be caused by several factors. One of these is due to standing or walking for long periods of time, which places too much pressure on the soles.

People with fallen foot arches, or otherwise known as over-pronated flat feet, are also susceptible to experiencing foot arch pain. This is caused by the extra effort and energy that they need to exert just for them to walk normally.

Aching feet can also be aggravated when a person wears ill-fitting or poorly-padded shoes. Wearing of tight socks or stockings with narrow and tight elastic is also a contributing factor in developing aching feet. This is due to the constriction of the vessels, which prevents proper blood circulation in the area.

Posted by: allendbrook | September 5, 2012 2:43 AM

According to research, aching feet can be caused by several factors. One of these is due to standing or walking for long periods of time, which places too much pressure on the soles.

People with fallen foot arches, or otherwise known as over-pronated flat feet, are also susceptible to experiencing foot arch pain. This is caused by the extra effort and energy that they need to exert just for them to walk normally.

Posted by: allendbrook | September 5, 2012 2:43 AM

Excellent write-up! Properly fitted shoes for your type of feet is very important - I cannot over emphasize this. Far too many people I know suffer from plantar fasciitis and many feel better after changing their shoes. Just shoes. Nothing else. Always replace old and worn out shoes, and when you purchase new shoes, make sure you get your foot properly measured at the shoe store. Most good shoe stores help you do that. Buying shoes is not just about shoe size. You have to try it. Walk around in it, fully laced up. Feel for any form of discomfort on the feet. If there is, choose another. Also, contrary to popular belief, never walk out of a shoe shop with ill-fitting shoes hoping you can "break into" it. Sofia - uncomfortablefoot

Posted by: Sanita | January 28, 2013 2:52 AM

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