Trying to stay on top of your health and overall wellness? Here are some things you simply must do:
- Eat well.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get enough sleep at night.
- Engage in regular physical activity.
But here’s the catch, though: while leading a sedentary lifestyle is obviously bad for your health, all physical activity comes with a certain degree of injury risk. And since we rely on our feet and ankles whenever participating in most – if not all – sports activities, lower limb injuries tend to be quite common. This is especially true when it comes to foot conditions that cause heel pain.
Does that mean you shouldn’t play your favorite sports and work out? Absolutely not!
The benefits of staying active definitely outweigh the risks of experiencing sports injuries, and the good news is most of these painful problems (including heel pain) are successfully treated with conservative treatment methods. Even better, prevention measures can greatly reduce injury risk in the first place.
If heel pain is slowly killing your motivation to stay on the move, come visit our Precision Foot and Ankle office for the relief you need today!
But first, let’s determine the root cause of your discomfort.
Heel Pain in Sports
The first thing you should do is become familiar with some of the most common foot conditions that may cause your heels to hurt. Below are some:
- Plantar fasciitis. This condition develops when the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, becomes inflamed.
- Achilles tendinitis. This condition develops when the tendon connecting the calf to the heel becomes inflamed.
- Bursitis. This condition develops when the bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs that cushion joints and muscles, become irritated and swollen.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome. This condition develops when the tibial nerve (located in the back on the ankle) becomes compressed or pinched in the tarsal tunnel.
- Haglund’s deformity. This condition develops as a bump or enlargement on the back of the heel bone. The Achilles tendon runs over the bump, which may cause pain or degeneration of the tendon.
Teens going through puberty and who are regularly active may also suffer from Sever’s disease, but this is usually a temporary growth-related issue. In all cases, however, finding the root cause of your problem will help determine the best course of action for getting your symptoms under control.
So if you are experiencing pain in your heels, you should come visit our office right away – and take some measures to prevent it from becoming worse while you wait for your appointment date.
Preventing Heel Pain in Sports
If the mere thought of heel pain from going on your morning jogs makes you cringe, then preventing this type of discomfort before it even starts is the best thing you can do. You can lower your risk of sustaining an injury by using the following practices:
- Gradually increase activity. If you are just starting a new exercise program, if you are going to play basketball or tennis with friends, or have you recently signed up for a recreational sporting league, it’s best not to jump right into the activity. Instead, start at a low level and gradually increase your efforts.
- Choose the right footwear. Make sure you have the correct shoes for the activity you perform. They should be neither too small nor too big, and should provide enough arch support and heel cushioning.
- Warm up and stretch before exercising. Always take about 5-10 minutes to do some brisk walking or light jogging before your game, practice, or workout session. After warming up, try some stretching exercises to get your body ready for action.
- Consider doing some cross-training. Instead of running six days a week, consider running every other day and using low-impact activities between them. Cycling, swimming, yoga, and even walking are all great options to reduce stress on your heels.
Of course, we also understand that sometimes injury can still happen despite putting all preventative measures to work. And when that happens, you can count on our Precision Foot and Ankle team to help you get back on your feet!
Treating Heel Pain in Sports
The initial treatment for an injury sustained during physical activity is usually first aid. RICE therapy is the traditional form of first aid and consists of:
- It’s important to allow the heel to recover from the stress. Cease all physical activities until the pain has diminished.
- Apply ice to the area in pain for 20 minutes at a time. Use a thin towel to protect your skin.
- Compressing the injured area will help reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Keep the injured foot raised above heart level as much as possible.
The overall goal for these measures is to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and give damaged body tissue the opportunity to heal. Of course, you should also contact our office so we can evaluate the severity of your condition and determine whether you can benefit from any other conservative treatment options. We may recommend that you use custom orthotics, take OTC medication, start corticosteroid injection therapy, or other treatments.
While nonsurgical care proves to be rather effective in most cases, surgery may be necessary to provide the relief you need if conservative measures fail. And if that is the case, you can find comfort in knowing that advancements in technology have resulted in minimally invasive procedures that are safer, have shorter recovery times, and cause less pain than more traditional surgeries.
Dr. Tenenboym specializes in providing a variety of minimally invasive surgeries to address various medical problems, including heel pain caused by physical activities.
Getting Back in the Game (Without Heel Pain)
If you would like to learn more about the sports injury services we provide at our Precision Foot and Ankle office, or you’ve been injured and need to request an appointment, simply connect with us at (727) 399-7167 today. You can also fill out our request form online to have one staff members reach out to you.