3 Common Reasons You May Have Heel Pain

by | Oct 28, 2020

If you want to know the best way to treat a particular case of heel pain, you must know what is causing it first.

There are multiple reasons why someone’s heels could be hurting, involving different parts of the foot and different potential factors. If you don’t address the root of the problem, treatment may be less effective, and your heel pain may simply happen all over again.

So if you’re wondering about the “why” of your persistent aching heels and what we can do about them, here are three common reasons people tend to develop heel pain.

heel pain

No. 1: Problems with Footwear

We spend a lot of time in our shoes – more than you might assume before you really stop to think about it! 

If your shoes are not providing you with the support and cushioning you require, they can end up causing excess strain to certain areas of your foot.

The plantar fascia, which runs along the arch of the foot, is a common victim to excessive stress. Aggravation to this band of tissue can cause plantar fasciitis, a frequent cause of sharp heel pain as soon as you get out of bed in the morning or start moving after a long period of inactivity.

Shoes can cause problems in a variety of ways, including:

  • Providing little to no arch support. Either the shoes never had this capability in the first place, or have become so worn out with use that they no longer do.
  • Having too high of a heel, forcing weight to shift toward the front of the foot. High heels can also cause the calf muscles to persistently tense and tighten, which can pull on the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.
  • Not being the proper type of shoes for your activities. Perhaps they don’t absorb the impacts of sports or long work days on hard surfaces well enough, or are not built to accommodate other movements of the feet well.

How to address it:

If your shoes are not cut out for the needs of your feet – or even exacerbating your heel pain problem – it’s time to change to footwear that will better accommodate your feet and reduce stress on vulnerable areas.

We can help you determine the best shoes for your needs, providing the right balance of support, cushioning, and stability. We can also help with athletic and sports shoes, but a trained associate at a sporting goods store is also likely to guide you well.

No. 2: Overuse Injuries

Our bodies are conditioned to endure a certain level of force and strain. We improve these levels over time by training and exercising, but sometimes these efforts will cause us to overextend ourselves.

Overuse injuries occur when we push our bodies too hard, too quickly. This can happen through sudden bursts of intensity when our bodies aren’t prepared for them, or through the repetitive impacts of activity when we don’t provide our bodies enough opportunity to rest and recover. 

Common types of overuse injuries which can cause heel pain include Achilles tendinitis, stress fractures, and plantar fasciitis.

Although overuse tends to be tied most often to athletics, you can also experience it through the demands of your work or hobbies.

How to address it:

No matter your intentions, it is never helpful in the long run to overextend yourself. You should always take a reasoned and gradual approach to increasing workout intensity, going no higher than a 10% increase in time, distance, or weight per week. And if that feels too much, listen to your body and dial it back some more. It’s always better to reach your goals slowly than to suffer through pain that might force you to sit out!

Similarly, changes to work routines should be explored and discussed, if possible.


No. 3: Abnormal Foot Structure and Gait

If your shoes can cause an abnormal shift of weight and force across your feet, so can an abnormality in the structure of your feet. The primary difference in this case, however, is that you can’t switch out your feet.

Abnormalities such as flat feet, high arches, and overpronation (the foot rolling too far inward during the walking cycle) can all affect the ways that your feet support and distribute weight, easily causing consequences such as heel pain.

How to address it:

Although the problem is internal, there is still great potential to address it with external means. Custom orthotics can provide support and cushioning exactly where the feet need it, helping to counter the effects of any abnormalities. However, this will not “cure” the abnormality itself, so the orthotics are intended for long-term use.

Finding the Right Path to Heel Pain Relief

Please keep in mind that, although we provided some suggestions for addressing each of the problems above, they may not be the best particular recommendations for each case. It is also very possible for more than one factor to influence a case of heel pain, which will further direct the approach we recommend each time.

Our recommendations will ultimately rely on a physical examination of your condition and speaking with you to understand more about how your heel pain affects your life. 

But if you have been enduring persistent heel pain for some time, there is no reason to keep waiting for things to improve on their own. Call us at (262) 544-0700 to schedule an appointment at our Waukesha office. We also have telemedicine appointments available if you prefer to consult with us remotely instead.

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