Why Your Heel Hurts After Exercise
There are always an abundance of exercise and physical activity options in southeastern Wisconsin no matter the season. With summer finally upon us, though, more Wisconsinites are running, playing rec sports, and just getting outdoors than at other times of the year. This is great! Put simply, the more you move around and stay active, the more likely it is that you’re improving your overall health and wellbeing.
Of course, there’s always a certain degree of injury risk from sports and working out, and heel pain is quite common in those who are active. If you find that your heel hurts after exercise, Wisconsin Foot Center can help!
Here are some common injuries that could be behind your heel pain:
- Achilles tendinitis – this occurs when the Achilles tendon—the tough, fibrous band of tissue connecting your calf muscle and heel bone (calcaneus)—suffers extreme strain or overuse. Middle-aged individuals have a higher risk since they are often only sporadically active (the proverbial “weekend warriors”).
The primary symptom is an aching pain in the back of the upper heel, normally strongest during and immediately following exercise.
- Sever’s disease –seen in active, growing children and adolescent patients, this condition (not actually a “disease”) develops due to differences in the rate of physical maturity between the Achilles tendon and the calcaneus to which it is anchored. Basically, the heel bone’s growth plate grows faster than the tendon, thereby placing extra strain on it and causing pain in the back of the heel, especially during activity. Your child will grow out of this, but in the meantime treatment is centered on managing symptoms.
- Bruised heel – There are tissues underneath the heel that assist in cushioning the back of your foot – which is rather important given the amount of force the area absorbs when you land it during the gait cycle. Sometimes, there is contusion or bruising to these tissues. We may treat the problem with protective measures and recommend rest to help damaged tissues recover more quickly.
- Heel fracture – It is possible to break or fracture your calcaneus, often the result of either falling or jumping and landing during physical activity with immediate pain, however, stress fractures (cracks in the bone) have a gradual onset and are more commonly seen in athletes like long-distance runners.
- Plantar fasciitis –the most common cause of heel pain, this is typically the result of overdoing athletic activity which places tremendous strain on the plantar fascia – a band of tissues responsible for supporting the foot arch by bridging the heel bone and front of the foot. Pain is at its worse in the morning and typically subsides during the course of the day, but returning with your first steps following periods of rest. Treatment includes rest, stretching, medication, and icing.
There are other reasons a heel might hurt after exercise, but they all have something in common – we can diagnose the problem and create a treatment plan for you here at Wisconsin Foot Center! For more information, or to request an appointment call us at (414) 425-8400 or fill out our online contact form.