Is Your Foot Pain Your Achilles Heel?

Is your foot pain your Achilles Heel?

Pain in the heel is a frequent problem in active people – especially those involved in activities such as running and jumping. There are a variety of conditions that can lead to the symptoms you are experiencing; however, the most common condition is called ‘plantar fasciitis’.

Plantar fasciitis has been referred to previously as ‘heel spurs’ – however, the presence of an actual spur of bone coming from the heel bone (calcaneous) may not be the cause of the pain. Many people with no heel pain may have bony spurs, yet conversely, many people with the symptom of heel pain do not actually have a spur at all.

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that involves irritation and/or minor tearing of the plantar fascia, which is a tight band of connective tissue on the sole of the foot. The pain with plantar fasciitis often comes on without obvious cause and is felt deep in the heel. Symptoms are usually worse first thing in the morning and can ease with gentle exercise. Pain is often aggravated by prolonged standing on hard surfaces.

The most important step in the initial management of heel pain is to replace the major aggravating activities with low impact options to reduce the amount of stress being placed through the foot and heel. This may involve reducing the running duration or substituting running and walking for a period of stationary cycling until the symptoms ease. It is also important that your running shoes are still providing good support – get your physiotherapist to check them out if you are at all worried about their level of support.

Local physiotherapy treatment involving massage of the plantar fascia, stretching of the fascia itself, as well as stretching of the calf muscles is also an important part of treatment. Many heel symptoms are also related to poor lower limb biomechanics, especially excessive pronation (inward rolling of the feet); therefore, a full biomechanical assessment with your physiotherapist is recommended.

There may also be a need for corrective orthotics or foot taping techniques, to help reduce the load on the fascia, in order to allow you to return to your running program as soon as possible.

Are YOU at Risk of Lower Limb Pain? | Try this Simple Test!

Lower limb pain can be caused by discrepancies in the available range of motion at the ankle joint – this can be checked by performing the commonly used “Lunge Test”, also called the “Toe to Wall Test”.

In this test the leading foot is placed close to the wall – you then lunge forward until the knee of the leading foot touches the wall whilst keeping the heel down– if the knee successfully touches the wall you redo the test but move the foot a little further from the wall. Repeat the test until you are no longer able to touch the knee to the wall then measure the maximal distance that the toes can be away from the wall but the knee still touch. Then repeat for the other leg.

If there is a difference in the result for each leg of more than 10% then it is advisable to have a comprehensive assessment done to determine the cause of the imbalance – it may be due to past ankle injury, past fracture or calf tightness – a great test and very predictive of possible lower limb injury when training volume is increased.

If your heel and foot pain is keeping you from life and your favourite activity contact our reception team on 020 8747 4029 to book a specialist appointment and get on top of your pain today!

Leslie Abrahams

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