It is a common misconception that only athletes suffer from heel pain – the fact is, anybody can suffer from it! It can happen from standing on your feet for long periods of time, brisk walking, even due to excess body weight. Many people suffer from heel pain and take it as just another inconvenience to bear in life. But whether it bothers you or not, it can be quite a burden on your poor feet because it makes them tired at the end of the day. Besides, it may develop into a chronic problem after a while. Let’s take a look at our 10 tips to treat and prevent the recurrence of heel pain when walking.
1. The Right Shoes with the Right Fit
The problem often stems from the wrong walking shoes. Get correct walking shoes that offer adequate arch support and shock absorption every time your feet hit the ground. If you use flat sandals with inadequate heel cushioning, your heels are likely to hurt. With cushioning, ensuring that you have the right fit of shoes is also important. The next time you buy shoes, walk around the store wearing them to ascertain if they fit you correctly – there should be enough space such that your big toe can move while you walk.
2. Everyday Insoles
You can get insoles to wear inside your shoes for added support and comfort as you walk. Insoles are discreet inserts that cannot be seen from outside the shoe. They act as shock absorbers for the feet by forming a cushioning layer between your feet and the actual surface of the shoe. We recommend gel insoles because they provide added comfort all day. There are some new insoles specially designed for women; these can be worn inside high heels as well as other types of shoes.
3. Rotate your Shoes
Using the same shoes every day wears them out and thins away the sole. Hence, it is always better to alternate between different pairs of shoes and styles. This will make your shoes last longer and give you good support too.
4. Bare-feet on Hard Floors
Most of us take off our shoes the moment we get home – after all, there is so much pleasure in touching your bare feet to the cool floor and walking around on it. It can be tempting to walk around barefoot in the summer, but the hard flooring can be tough on your feet. Barefoot walking offers no support to your feet. Instead, you can wear open toed shoes and gel insoles for extra comfort. Yes, wearing shoes indoors is not your idea of relaxing at home, but it offers great foot support on hard tiled floors. Or you could just wear slippers with padded soles at home.
5. Warm Up Time
The mistake most people make before going for a walk is that they don’t stretch. They think that the walk itself is stretching enough! This is not true – get a good stretch in before you start your walk so that your muscles and joints are ready for the activity. Doing this can reduce the incidence of heel pain. You can even stretch your heel by rolling a hard rubber ball underfoot for a couple of minutes. Look up more warm-up and stretching ideas in our tips on foot gymnastics.
6. Reduce your Load
It makes sense to skip taking the bus and walking to work. But this makes zero sense if you’re lugging around a heavy bag and wearing the wrong shoes. This only puts unnecessary pressure on you as your legs try to accommodate the excess weight. Lighten the load and leave all unnecessary extra items at work or home.
7. Rest Up between Walks
If your heels are paining on and off, they are telling you to slow down and rest. If there is a walk in your daily routine, lay off walking for a while till your heels stop paining. You can even consider taking the day off work or trying to reduce the time you spend on your feet. Once you get home, put your feet up and relax so that your feet can recuperate from the stresses of the day.
8. Choose a new Route
If you have persistent heel pain, you might consider choosing a shorter route on your morning walk or commute to work. Download an app that gives you a shorter route, or which times your journey and gives you a friendlier route to try.
9. Survey those Surfaces
It is best to lay off concrete surfaces altogether when you go out walking, but you can’t avoid them altogether. Concrete surfaces are bad news for your feet. Consider walking over sand or grass to relax your feet. If you walk regularly for fitness purposes, you can consider walking on the beach or a garden with a lawn.
10. Maintain a Healthy Weight
It’s not just the bags and books we carry that add to the weight on our feet – it’s our body weight as well! Reducing your weight is great for your overall fitness but especially for your knees, ankles and heels.
Walking can keep you fit and healthy for a long time to come. But it can exacerbate the signs and symptoms of heel pain. Follow the tips outlined above to stave off heel pain and prevent it from getting worse. If the pain progresses over time and makes it difficult for you to walk, it is time to consult a doctor.