In fact, the pain is caused by the tightening of the plantar fascia ligament on the bottom of the foot that attaches to the base of the heel. This tightening can occur in individuals who are standing for long periods of time, sitting at a desk for long periods of time or are overweight. I also believe genetics plays a small role in this because there are lots of people who live similar lifestyles but never suffer from heel pain.
My mother who was a bar maid throughout my childhood often complained about heel pain. I've had heel pain intermittently throughout my life beginning at a young age when I use to work in a corner store with a cement floor as its underlay. It went away for a while but when I went into nursing it came back with a vengeance and continued on when I left the field moving into retail. All fields involved a lot of standing. After I left the rat race to be a self-employed woman of leisure (tongue-in-cheek) the heel pain went away. Most of my work time is spent at the computer so it made sense to me that the pain would go too.
About a year-and-half ago the heel pain came back. And it was more painful than it had been before. Then it left one foot and continued in my right heel. It was so bad that it even ached during the day as well as its telltale first thing upon rising. I decided at this point that I couldn't continue to ignore it and had to take immediate action.
I instituted the following:
Rest Obviously, when something is in considerable pain you should rest. But not to the point that atrophy occurs in the muscles. Rest wasn't a problem but I did need to not over do the walking. Like when I went away to the Rockies and it got worse. I had to take breaks.
Stretch A lot of people think it is the spurs that cause pain but it is because the tendons, ligaments and muscles of the calf and foot are tight. Stretching the calf muscles helps the foot get a better range of motion when in use. It's important for me to stretch throughout the day whether I'm standing or sitting for long periods of time, I make a mental note to take a few minutes to stretch. The best stretch is hanging my heels off a stair and leaning forward on the stairs with my legs straight. I find a few yoga stretches very helpful; specifically: warrior II, five pointed star, goddess, extended triangle, wide-legged forward bend and down dog. First thing in the morning, instead of jumping out of bed to heel pain I do a reclining leg stretch for each leg.
Massage Lubing up my hands with some lotion (or Vaseline) I massage the heel and instep focusing on the heel pain pressure point. First lightly and then with a bit of pressure as tolerable. It's amazing what a little bit of massage can do for an area.
Ice Applying ice is something that feels really good and I have found reduced pain and tension in the heel. I do this with a gel ice pack at night after stretching and massaging and before bed while watching TV. Five minutes on and five minutes off, times two.
After only a few days I noticed an immediate improvement. I find that individually there is some aid from each of these remedies but they work best as a family. If I slack off I notice it starts to creep back. If you suffer from heel pain give these simple and inexpensive remedies a try.
Do you suffer heel pain? What works or doesn't work for you? Let us know in the Large and Lovely forum.