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Educational Resources

Orthotics and Stretches to Relieve Heel Pain

ankle-foot-orthoticsDid you know that you can choose orthotics and stretches to relieve heel pain? It’s true, but first we need to know what’s causing that heel pain. And one common cause if plantar fasciitis, triggered by inflammation. In turn, you’re likely to experience foot, heel and arch pain. Thankfully, simple interventions can make a big difference.

Why Gimics Don’t Work

Recently, Gwyneth Paltrow shared her “$10 hack” for relieving the arch pain that comes after a long night of heels. She declared that, after a long night in high heels, she slips on her copper arch support bands, and all is relieved.

Now, she’s made some questionable health suggestions in the past. (Hello jade eggs…) And, in the scheme of things, this tip is unlikely to cause you any harm. However, it’s also likely to give temporary pain relief…if it helps your heel pain in any way at all. So, you can feel free to take the risk of throwing out ten dollars. OR, you can invest in a supportive device that should relieve current heel pain, while preventing problems in the future!

Orthotics to Relieve Heel Pain: A Winning Combination

In our Spring, TX podiatry practice, we often prescribe custom foot orthotics to relieve heel pain.  This medical device works well if flat feet or other biomechanical issues cause your heel pain. But how and why can they relieve heel pain?

Foot orthotics reduce pressure on your heel, evenly distributing the shock your feet absorb every time you walk or run. As such, orthotics can also help improve your feet’s biomechanics, reducing your risk of chronic or recurring plantar fasciitis.

What are Ankle Foot Orthotics?

Orthotics are physical aids used to support weak limbs or direct the proper function of limbs. Often they are used to support the ankle and foot. Such orthotics is known as AFOs. AFOs help strengthen the muscles or train them to function in the proper position. AFOs can also benefit muscles that need to be lengthened or loosened.

Why might you need orthotics?

We often prescribe orthotics when someone is suffering from diseases that affect the musculature, like polio and multiple sclerosis. However, more common conditions like arthritis and stroke, or those that “toe in”, may also require orthotics.

Modern orthotics has improved dramatically from the metal braces of previous years. Many of today’s orthotics is made of lightweight plastics and other advanced materials to provide new levels of comfort and support. Often the orthotic is designed in a rigid L shape that is contoured to the calf and flesh colored. (Read more about Ankle Foot Orthotics here.)

Orthotics can be part of the recovery process for a variety of foot and ankle injuries. But they aren’t your only options. Because, for some patients, stretches to relieve heel pain will also make a big difference in your recovery.

Stretches to Relieve Heel Pain

stretches to relieve heel pain

Photo by benjamin lehman on Unsplash

Whether you work with our in-office athletic trainer or try some at home, these stretches to relieve heel pain, adapted from Footwear News, can help you walk comfortably again.

Rolling your arch

Rolling a frozen water bottle along your foot arch can help reduce inflammation, and make it less painful when you start your first of several stretches to relieve heel pain.

Arch Stretching

Crossing one leg over the other, grab toes and pull them gently toward you. Stop when you feel a stretch, and hold the position for 30 seconds, repeating twice more. Not able to reach your toes? No problem! Instead of using your hands, take a towel in your hands, and place the middle under your arch, holding two ends in your hands. Gently pull those ends toward your body, and hold for 30 seconds.

Foot Flex and Stretch

This one is easy to do on the go. Any time you’re sitting around, try to flex your arch back and forth. Do this at least 10 times, whenever you think of it.

Stretches to Relieve Heel Pain: Focus on the Calves

Tight calf muscles can tug at your plantar fascia, stretching it out and causing irritation or even small tears. That’s why stretching your calves out can relieve some of your heel pain. Want a good stretch to try at home? Stand on any stair or step stool, and let your heels hang off the edge. (Make sure to hold onto a railing or counter for balance.) Then, drop your heels below the height of your forefoot, holding the position for at least 30 seconds. Do at least three reps per side.

Try a Night Splint

The heel pain of plantar fasciitis is usually worst when you first get out of bed in the morning. And that’s because your ligament tightens up overnight when it’s stuck in one position. Of course, you can’t do manual stretches to relieve heel pain while you sleep. Instead, you may want to grab a night splint that stretches out your ligament while you enjoy a good night’s rest.

Help for Heel Pain in Spring TX

Whether you need simple stretches or custom orthotics to relieve heel pain, we’re here to help! That was the case for our patient Richard D., who recently shared: “Thank you Dr. Bachmann for quickly identifying the cause of my foot/heel pain. After yesterday’s appointment, I slept with the boot… I awoke without the sharp heel pain. A very slight discomfort pinch but I was able to walk immediately without agonizing pain in every step! 

I look forward to a full recovery and will follow the other suggestions of stretching, icing etc… Thank you so much!!”

Would you like to enjoy similar relief? Don’t wait another day in pain. Just reach out to our office and schedule an appointment to address your heel pain!