In the warmer months of spring and summer, podiatrists tend to see an increase in the presentation of heel pain. It is thought that the cold damp weather conditions of winter and long periods of inactivity make our joints stiffer.
Being cooped up in our homes waiting for winter to end, and when it does, we rush outdoors and start walking, running and exercising.
With an increase in physical activity, it leads to a higher incidence of overuse injuries and the onset of heel pain.
Here are 3 tips to help avoid heel pain in summer.
Check your footwear
Transitioning from winter to summer people tend to move from slightly more supportive “winter” shoes to flip-flops and flatter shoes. Making sure that we wear supportive shoes throughout the year can help reduce symptoms of heel pain.
Wearing old runners to start exercising may not be a good idea.
Making sure your our runners are still supportive and not worn out.
Stretching is always important regardless of age and level of activity. Stretching increasing our range of motion, which means our limbs and joints can move further before an injury occurs. Prepare properly before exercising. The diagram below is a simple plantar fascia stretching technique that can be done before exercising:
Cross the affected leg over the contralateral leg. While placing the fingers across the base of the toes, the pull the toes back toward the shin until you can feel a stretch in the arch or plantar fascia. The stretch is correct when you can feel tension in the plantar fascia. Whilst holding this stretch you can also run your thumb up and down your plantar fascia.
Holding the stretch for 10 seconds and repeating 10 times twice a day in the morning and evening
(Reprinted from: DiGiovanni BF, Nawoczenski DA, Lintal ME, Moore EA, Murray JC, Wilding GE, Baumhauer JF. Tissuespecific plantar fascia-stretching exercise enhances outcomes in patients with chronic heel pain. A prospective, randomized study. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2003;85:1270-)
Post-exercise stretching can also aid in the workout recovery, decrease muscle soreness and ensures your muscles and tendons are in good working order. By conditioning your muscles and tendons especially your plantar fascia, you decrease your chance of injury and heel pain.
Slow and Easy
If you have not done any physical activity in a long time, it would be beneficial to start off slowly. Your feet are one of the most overlooked body parts when it comes to exercise, yet they can tell you so much about your overall health.
As you exercise, pay attention to what your feet are telling you, pain is often a message from the body that something is in need of medical attention. Don’t be afraid to take breaks in between exercising.
Make sure to consult your podiatrist before beginning any fitness program. This includes a complete biomechanical and footwear assessment. A check-up is especially important for those who are overweight, smoke or haven’t pursued any physical activity in a long time.