Heel Pain explained

Heel pain is by far the most common foot problem in Australia. Heel pain is often experienced with your first steps when getting out of bed in the morning and presented by a sharp stabbing pain in the centre of the heel.

Heel pain is most common in middle-aged to older people. In fact, 50% of the over 50s will develop heel pain! However, it also occurs in younger people who are on their feet a lot, like athletes, soldiers, policemen, people working in hospitality etc.

What causes heel pain?

Commonly heel pain is caused by a painful stretching or micro-tearing of the plantar fascia. This is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of the foot.

Plantar Fasciitis is Latin for inflammation of the Plantar Fascia. During normal conditions, the fascia is flexible and strong.  However due to factors such as abnormal stress, excessive weight, age, or poor foot function, the fascia can become weakened, irritated or inflamed.

If the foot flattens and rolls inwards (excessive pronation), the attachment of the plantar fascia onto the calcaneus (heel bone) may begin to stretch and pull away from the calcaneus. This painful condition is called Plantar Fasciitis. In addition to Plantar Fasciitis, after a while a 'heel spur' may develop at the bottom of the calcaneus.

During resting or non-weight bearing periods (eg when you're asleep), the plantar fascia shortens. When body weight is rapidly applied to the foot, the fascia must stretch and quickly lengthen, causing micro-tears in the fascia. Hence, the stabbing pain with your first steps in the morning.

Plantar Fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. The inflammation occurs at the point where the ligaments inserts into the heel bone.

Treatment and prevention of heel pain and heel spurs

Doctors and podiatrists recommend the following treatment methods:

• Rest (avoid high impact sports, running, walking long distances or standing for long periods of time)

• Ice (3 times a day for 5 minutes at a time)

• A daily exercise program

In some cases cortisone-steroid injections are performed by a GP directly into the heel bone.

However, for long-term, more natural pain relief, you must treat the root cause of the problem: abnormal foot mechanics (over-pronation). This is exactly what orthotic insoles do.

Footlogics orthotics were developed by Australian podiatrists and have been specifically designed to support the arches of the feet and control over-pronation. They help minimise the tension on the Plantar Fascia to treat the source of the problem and allow the inflamed tissue to heal fast. For added comfort and relief from pain, Footlogics orthotics also have a shock-absorbing heel pad that reduces the level of impact on your heel as you walk. You can read more about heel pain in this article.