Many people who run regularly experience heel pain at some point. The most common cause of heel pain in runners is plantar fasciitis, which is a condition that affects the fibrous tissue on the sole of the foot. For some people, the heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis is mild and quickly goes away, but for others, this nagging injury can hang around for months or even years. Here are a few tips you can use to beat heel pain and achieve your running goals.
1. Don't Run Through Pain
Heel pain is often a sign that you have been pushing yourself too hard in your running routine. As soon as pain occurs, reduce the distances you run and consider adding more rest days into your schedule. This will help to reduce the risk of the injury getting worse.
2. Stretch Calves Daily
Tight calves are a major risk factor for plantar fasciitis. When your calves are tight, they pull on the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot, straining this tissue and triggering pain in your heels. One of the best ways to treat and prevent heel pain is to stretch your calves every day.
Put your hands on a wall and take a big step back with one foot. Keep your back leg straight and lean your hips forward as much as you can to create a stretch down the back of your leg. Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds and repeat it at least twice a day.
3. Stretch Calves at Night
Stretching your calves while you sleep is an incredibly effective way of getting rid of the heel pain that affects many runners first thing in the morning. All you need to do is buy a night splint and wear it on your affected foot while you sleep. If both heels are sore, you will need to purchase two night splints. The night splint keeps the ankle in a flexed position overnight, gently stretching the plantar fascia and preventing the calf from tightening up.
4. Replace Your Running Shoes
Heel pain is sometimes a sign that your running shoes are not providing the support and cushioning you need. Go to a local running store that offers gait analysis to find the right shoes for you. Many runners with plantar fasciitis find that stability shoes, which include a large arch support, help them to run without pain.
5. Visit a Physiotherapy Clinic
If self-help does not resolve your heel pain, schedule an appointment at a physiotherapy clinic. A physiotherapist can work out whether tight calves, weak muscles or some other issue is contributing to your heel pain. They can then give you exercises or stretches to do to banish the problem for good.