3 Smart Tips to Prevent Heel Pain from Running
Consistent heel pain is always a sure sign that something needs to change. And if it is happening during or after a run, that’s all the more reason to take action!
We understand that some runners might be wary of asking for help about heel pain, for fear that they may be told to stop running. But that’s the last thing we want you to do! Being active provides a host of benefits for the feet and ankles, and our primary goal is always to help you stay moving longer and more comfortably through the future.
If heel pain has been present during or after your runs, we highly encourage you to schedule an appointment with us. We can determine what is at the root of the problem and recommend a treatment plan that greatly relieves or outright eliminates your discomfort.
In the meantime, however, there are still some steps you can take now to help prevent or reduce heel pain while running. We cannot guarantee these will all significantly help your particular situation, as different causes of heel pain require different forms of treatment. However, they are still great general tips for anyone to follow, and knowing what works and what doesn’t for your particular case can be great information for making a diagnosis.
Take Time to Stretch
Certain parts within the foot and lower leg can contribute to heel pain, depending on the specific condition causing it. The plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles can be culpable in cases of plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis, for example.
Incorporating stretching of these areas into your routine can not only help better prepare your body for running, but generally condition these areas to better resist injury. Stretching before and after a run is a no-brainer, but taking time to stretch in the morning or during the day can be helpful as well.
Some stretches to consider include:
- Standing Dynamic Calf Stretch – Stand with your feet at shoulder width apart. Place the heel of one foot about 12 inches in front of you and flex the foot upward. Keeping this leg straight, shift your weight onto your other leg while bending slightly at the knee. Simultaneously, shift your hips back until you feel a stretch down the back of your extended leg. Hold 5 seconds, then flex your foot again for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 times per leg.
- Heel Raises – Stand with feet at shoulder width apart. Slowly raise both heels off the ground while keeping your knees straight. Hold for 5-6 seconds, then slowly lower down. Repeat 8-12 times. (A variation of this stretch involves lowering your heels off the edge of a step. In any case, always make sure you have something to hold onto for safety and stability.)
- Wall Stretch – Stand at arm’s length from a wall (or tree) with hands upon it at shoulder height. Step back with one leg, then slowly bend your front leg forward until you feel a stretch. Keep the back leg straight and heel on the ground. Hold 15-30 seconds, repeating 3 times with each leg.
These are just a few of many different helpful stretches. Please don’t hesitate to ask us about a regimen that may best serve your needs.