Keep Heel Pain From Stopping Your Winter

Occasionally we get these gorgeous, warm, sunny winter days in the Denver area that brighten our spirits and make us think spring is on its way—unless you are a winter sports fan and worry about the snow pack. Weather is not the only condition that can threaten your ability to enjoy your favorite winter sport. Heel pain can, too. We want to share some tips that can keep the pain away and keep you ready for fun.

A common reason for heel pain is plantar fasciitis. (The ligament runs along your sole and connects your heel bone and toes, forming your arch.) It can feel as if someone is sticking a knife in under your heel, especially when you first get up in the morning.

That’s because overnight, while you are sleeping, the plantar fascia contracts. The same thing happens when you spend a long time in high heels. Then, when you stand up or switch to flats, the tight ligament pulls against the bottom of your heal and damages the lining of the bone.

How can you prevent plantar fasciitis? 1) Provide proper support for your arch, and 2) condition the muscles and ligaments in your feet so they function better.

Your shoes need to have a rigid shank and good, cushioned support for your heel. Those cute ballerina flats, stiletto heels, or even flat soled boots can’t provide that. For times when you can’t wear an athletic shoe, we can design custom orthotics that slip right inside your regular shoes and support your foot in all the right places.

There are stretches that can help as well. Place your hands shoulder height on a wall, extend one leg back—heel down—and lean forward to gently stretch the calf muscles and Achilles of the back leg. You can also sit with one ankle over the other knee and gently pull back your toes toward your shin to stretch your arch. Massaging the bottom of your foot can help, too, as can strengthening your arch by trying to pull a towel toward you or picking up marbles with your toes.

Author Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center

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