5 Tips For Heel Pain Relief

Physical Therapy Advice For Plantar Fasciitis

Girl with plantar fasciitis heel pain

That first step – the burning, stinging pain in your heel stops you in your tracks. It’s been getting worse over the course of the last few months and you hoped it would go away by now. All you want is to be able to live your life the way you used to – to walk and to run pain-free. Plantar Fasciitis can be debilitating and long-lasting, but with the proper treatment, you can improve.

Let’s look more closely at Plantar Fasciitis: what it is and what the best treatment options are…

Do Any of These Symptoms Sound Familiar?

  • A gradual onset of pain
  • Burning pain
  • Pain with weight-bearing
  • Pain made worse coming up on your toes
  • Morning pain and stiffness
  • Pain after long periods of being inactive

The plantar fascia is a band on the bottom of your foot that attaches to the inside of your heel and helps support your foot’s arch1.

Why Does Your Heel Hurt So Much?

Direct, repetitive pressure on your heel 2 can sometimes cause inflammation at the point where the plantar fascia attaches 3.

Heel pain does not discriminate – it affects both athletes and non-athletes alike. Typically, this painful condition affects a middle-aged, overweight person who stands on hard surfaces4 or a long-distance runner5.

In fact, plantar fasciitis accounts for about 10% of all running injuries 6.

If you’re a runner, you should know that training errors are often to blame for heel pain – these include7:
– Sudden increases in mileage
– Running up steep hills
– Running in worn-out shoes

What Can You Do About Heel Pain?

Unfortunately, heel pain can last a long time. On average, most people’s symptoms go away within 10 months 8.

Plus, 20% to 30% of people with plantar fasciitis get symptoms in both feet9.

So what can you do to find relief? Here are 5 tips:

1. Stretch Your Achilles

Stretching your Achilles will lessen its pull on your heel, which will take some stress off your plantar fascia.

 

2. Stretch Your Plantar Fascia

Stretching your plantar fascia has been shown to be even more effective than stretching your Achilles to treat heel pain10.

 

3. Wear Over-The-Counter Shoe Inserts

These types of shoe inserts help put your arch in a correct position to take stress off your plantar fascia. Plus, according to a prominent study, the pre-made inserts produce better results than custom-made orthotics11, which can cost you hundreds of dollars.

The kind of shoe inserts I recommend to my patients are Superfeet.* They come in different colors based on the type of shoe you want to wear them in – athletic shoes, dress shoes, etc. They’re durable, affordable, and comfortable. Simply put, they’re the best.

4. Ice

Try rolling the bottom of your foot on a frozen water bottle for 5–10 minutes – especially after activity to help control inflammation.

5. Rest

If you’re a runner, rest is a must. Reduce your miles, slow down, or stop completely. A lot of runners try to run through the pain, which only serves to make symptoms worse. Allow the tissues to heal. Sometimes this means stopping for several months.

Just remember that improvement is going to be gradual, sometimes taking up to a year. During this time, I’d recommend maintaining fitness and activity by trying cycling or swimming – both activities that aren’t going to put any direct force on the heel.

Once you can tolerate it, a gradual return to walking and running is then recommended – working your way from walking short distances, to gradually further, and so on

Question: What else have you found to help with heel pain? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

*This is an affiliate product – which means that, if purchased, I earn a small commission.  The cool thing is, it doesn’t change the price for you – so it’s a win-win!  Thanks for your support!


  1. Basmajian JV, Stecko G. The role of muscles in arch support of the foot: An electromyographic study. J. Bone Joint Surg. 45A:11184, 1963.  ↩
  2. Schepsis AA, Leach RE, Gorzyca J. Plantar Fasciitis: Etiology, Treatment, Surgical Results, and Review of the Literature. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 1991; 266: 185–196.  ↩
  3. Furey JG. Plantar fasciitis. The painful heel syndrome. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1975;57:672–3.  ↩
  4. Schepsis AA, Leach RE, Gorzyca J. Plantar Fasciitis: Etiology, Treatment, Surgical Results, and Review of the Literature. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 1991; 266: 185–196.  ↩
  5. Ballas MT, et al. Common overuse running injuries: diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 1997;55:2473–84.  ↩
  6. Ballas MT, et al. Common overuse running injuries: diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 1997;55:2473–84.  ↩
  7. Tanz SS. Heel Pain. Clin. Orthop. 28:169, 1963.  ↩
  8. Davis PF, Severud E, Baxter DE. Painful heel syndrome: results of nonoperative treatment. Foot Ankle Int. 1994;15:531–5.  ↩
  9. Schepsis AA, Leach RE, Gorzyca J. Plantar Fasciitis: Etiology, Treatment, Surgical Results, and Review of the Literature. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 1991; 266: 185–196.  ↩
  10. DiGiovanni BG, et al. Tissue-Specific Plantar Fascia-Stretching Exercise Enhances Outcomes in Patients with Chronic Heel pain: A prospective, Randomized Study. J Bone and Joint Surgery/ 2003; 85(7): 1270–77.  ↩
  11. Pfeffer G, et al. Comparison of Custom and Prefabricated Orthoses in the Initial Treatment of Proximal Plantar Fasciitis. Foot & Ankle international 1999;20(4):214–221.  ↩
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4 thoughts on “5 Tips For Heel Pain Relief

  1. Did anyone think about the real name of the disfunction? There is no inflamation so there is no itis. The name is PLANTAR FASCIOPATHY.
    And with this thought, I found usually that the cause is not in the plantar region but high up along the sequences.

  2. Interesting info on the changes with chronic pain. Would it be okay if I shared this article via my clinic’s social media outlets? (giving you proper credit of course!)

    • Thanks Rachel! You are welcome to share any of my content. Anyone is welcome to share. One thing I’d request is that you don’t just copy and paste the whole article – this can actually penalize my website with google. But you can write a little synopsis or use the first paragraph of the article and link to the rest of it on my site. What’s your clinic’s name?

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