Many jobs are challenging enough on their own with deadlines, quotas, and physical demands. Throw in an external nuisance like heel pain and it’s just adding more difficulty than you need!
Some people believe that heel pain is just a normal part of the job they have. That can be an understandable conclusion to make, especially if the job includes lots of time spent standing, running around, or stooping.
The truth, however, is that heel pain is never normal, and you should never just accept it as “part of your life.” The more you do, the more the quality of your life diminishes. Not only are you miserable at work, but you can grow too fatigued to desire doing anything once you come home as well. That’s no way to go!
Fortunately, there are a few measures you might be able to take to stay more comfortable at the workplace. We will be getting to those soon. However, when persistent heel pain is part of your daily life, odds are high that you need a more direct diagnosis and treatment plan for lasting results.
So while the tips below can have a good influence on relieving your heel pain at work, you should still give North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute a call if the discomfort remains.
Consider Your Footwear
Many cases of heel pain are influenced by the kind of shoes you find yourself in. Your work shoes could quite possibly be giving your feet more stress than they need.
A good work shoe should have a slight elevation in the heel—somewhere between a quarter of an inch and 2 inches. High heels are a well-known torture device, yes, but shoes that are completely flat can also cause problems.
There is also the question of whether the shoes you are wearing are best suited for your biomechanics, or the way your feet are structured and move.
An abnormality in foot structure can place excess stress upon areas that can become fatigued and more susceptible to injuries, such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis. A change in footwear may provide better corrective support and cushioning to these areas.
In some situations, even more specific cushioning and support may be needed. Custom orthotic inserts can be a very effective tool for many patients in this regard.
Consider Your Environment
If you are standing all day, just where do you have to stay?
If your feet are always on a hard surface, such as wood or concrete, that is adding to the stress your feet have to endure while they bear your weight through a shift. If possible, changing up this surface can be a significant help to your heel pain.
We’re not saying you should ask your supervisor if you can rip up the floor! However, placing an anti-fatigue mat where you must stand can be an effective option. It just has to be safe and permissible to do so.
Stretch and Exercise
Taking some free moments to stretch your heels and connected muscles can feel great and reduce your pain over time. Here are a few to try:
- Heel rolling. If you sit at a desk (or even sit for lunch), take a tennis ball or dedicated massage roller and roll it beneath each foot for several minutes. For an added ice bonus, take a mostly filled water bottle, freeze it, and roll that beneath each foot. (Just make sure there’s nothing you shouldn’t get wet on the floor when you do it, just in case.)
- Calf raises. These are good for circulation in your feet, as well as stretching the calf muscles that can strain the heels. Stand up straight on the edge of a step or platform. Secure the balls of your feet on the step, with your heels hanging over the edge. Raise your heels a few inches upward as you stand on tiptoes, hold for a second, then lower back to even with the platform. You can do this on flat ground without a step, too, but the effect is a bit lessened.
- Wall Stretch. Face a wall and place your hands against it. Extend one leg behind your body, then push your heel to the floor as far as it will go. Hold for a moment, feeling the stretch (but not pain), then switch sides. Repeat three times on each leg.
Even if you don’t have opportunity to stretch, just leaving your position and moving about for a bit can be a help.
Additional stretches and activities may more directly help your specific situation, so do not be afraid to ask us about it!
Professional Help for Heel Pain
Even if the measures above help somewhat, they are usually only part of a the process for most cases of heel pain. Our foot and ankle experts can get to the source of your problem and recommend a more comprehensive treatment plan for even greater effect.
Depending on the cause of your condition, your heel pain may be helped by one or more different treatments. These may include custom orthotics, as mentioned above. They might also include advanced treatments such as MLS laser therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, both of which use the body’s own natural resources to accelerate healing and pain relief.
Physical therapy and other options also exist. And do not be afraid that surgery for your heel pain is a must. We always pursue more conservative measures whenever possible, and the clear majority of the time, they are sufficiently helpful.
Do not wait for help on chronic heel pain. If you have had trouble for more than a few days (and of course much longer than that), you have more than enough reason to schedule an appointment with us! Give us a call at (512) 593-2949 for our offices in Cedar Park or Round Rock.