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How To Get Rid Of Heel Pain After Running

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Runners literally call it pounding the pavement. We hammer out our stress. It stands to reason that as you put miles on your feet and legs sometimes injuries are bound to occur. Runners experience injury in a variety of areas of the body including the bottom of their feet. More specifically, sometimes runners experience heel pain after running.

Can You Bruise Your Heel From Running?

The repeated movement of hitting your foot on the ground can cause you to experience a bruise on your heel. The force of impacting over and over, whether from running or a large amount of walking, can cause some significant pain. If you think your heel is bruised, you should look at the bottom of your foot.

Are you experiencing discoloration in addition to heel pain? Some people experience such deep bruising, it is bruised right down to the bone.

Although any runner can bruise a heel, it is more common in heel strikers than in those who have a mid or forefoot strike.

Other Causes of A Heel Bruise?

There are other ways to bruise a heel. If you impact a rock on the heel of your foot, you can experience bruising right through the cushioning of your shoes.

Another thing that causes vulnerability is wearing shoes with less of a cushion to them. You want to have shoes that offer you more protection if you are prone to bruising when running on surfaces like trails or gravel roads.

heel bruise
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Some runners who wear minimalist shoes find themselves experiencing more bruises or painful spots, especially on varied terrain. This is also true of barefoot runners. However, there are also people who always run barefoot or in a shoe with very little support who have no foot pain at all. These people have grown comfortable and acclimated to having very little protection.

Overweight runners tend to also be more susceptible to foot bruising than those with a slighter build.

Speaking of runners who are more susceptible to heel bruising and pain, if you have either very high or very low arches, you could experience the discomfort with greater likelihood than someone with “normal” arches.

How To Treat Heel Pain

When you have heel pain from running, you have many different ways you can treat the problem. Assuming it is a bruise and not something more severe, here are some suggestions.

✓ Use RICE: Although not everyone agrees, for years the acronym RICE has been used for bruising. The letters stand for rest, ice, compression and elevation.

✓ Pain reliever such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce discomfort and inflammation.

You can protect your heel with a heel cushion. This can prove helpful.

Could It Be Plantar Fasciitis?

One of the most common causes of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. What happens is the thick band that runs under your foot and connects your toes to your heel becomes inflamed. This is usually a result of excessive strain on this ligament and it is very painful.

plantar fasciitis
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Most people who experience plantar fasciitis are avid runners or walkers; although there are exceptions to that.

Treatment Options For PF

If you have confirmed that what ails you is plantar fasciitis, there are some things you can do.

Physical Therapy: There are exercises specific to helping your plantar fasciitis. Designed to stretch this area as well as strengthening the Achilles, regularly doing exercises can help you with healing your body as well as preventing a recurrence.

Night Splints: Sometimes your doctor will recommend you wear a splint at night. This is to stretch the calf and bottom of your foot while you sleep. Although not considered comfortable, it helps a large percentage of people who struggle with this pain.

OrthoticsSometimes a podiatrist will make you custom orthotics to help your PF.

Steroid Injections: These steroid injections can help some people to recover from PF. However, this is not a treatment recommended to do repeatedly because the injection can actually weaken this area.

Ultrasound: Considered less invasive than the injection option, ultrasounds also help some people recover from PF. The waves break apart the wounded area.

Sound Wave Therapy: Much like ultrasound, in this case, sound waves are used to break apart the damaged tissue.

Surgery: Although a rare option, there are a few athletes who actually need to have their foot surgically repaired after PF.

How Long Does Heel Pain Last?

If your heel pain after running is a bruise, likely you will start to feel better after a week of rest. If it is a bone or deep tissue bruise, you may find yourself in pain for up to three weeks.

If you are suffering from plantar fasciitis, you could be struggling with this for much, much longer. Some athletes are sidelined for months with this.

Should I Run If My Foot Hurts?

That is an excellent question with no clear answer. If you have just a slight twinge in your heel you may be safe to keep running. However, if the heel pain persists you may need a day or two off of running. If you think your shoes have too many miles on them, try switching up into new shoes as soon as the discomfort rears its ugly head. If this remedies your problem you are good to go!

running with heel pain
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If you have pain accompanied by bruising, your body will benefit from some rest (as long as there is visible bruising) and also ice and an anti-inflammatory.

However, if you have plantar fasciitis, you need more than a day or two rest and should not run. Pushing your body through that pain usually ends with the athlete sidelined even longer.

Preventing Heel Pain

One of the best preventions of heel pain is having the proper shoes for your workout. If you visit a running store and the associate puts you in a cushioned shoe, be wary of trying something with less cushion or stability. Transitioning into a minimalist shoe too quickly can be hard on your feet.

In addition to that, be careful not to increase your mileage or activity level too quickly. People who try to do too much, too quickly often regret that decision.

If you take good care of your feet and listen to your body, often you can help prevent injuries from happening or getting out of hand!

Sources

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff, Plantar fasciitis, Health Website
  2. Emily Cronkleton, Causes of Heel Pain After Running, Plus Treatment and Prevention, Health Website