‘Heel and arch pain is ruining my life!’
While this statement might sound a tad dramatic, I get it. Just about all of us do almost everything on our feet. And while our heel and arches hurt, it makes it difficult for us to put our best foot forward in our lives. Plus, it sucks.
Every step is painful. Sometimes there is no position that you can place your foot while walking that causes any relief at all.
Thankfully, this is a widespread issue that many people have, and there IS something that can be done to resolve it – so, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
(Doesn’t it feel so much better knowing that other people are in your misery with you?)
The great news of it being something many others have is that we know how we can help! AND we know that we CAN help!
While there are several different reasons for heel and arch pain, the most common and most likely cause is plantar fasciitis. People who suffer from plantar fasciitis commonly report that their heel and arch pain is worse in the morning when they take their first few steps of the day.
The pain also flairs up when they get up from sitting down after a while and try to walk. They usually notice the heel and arch pain is not as bad when they are up, walking around, and moving until the condition worsens… at which point the heel and arch can be painful for most of the day.
So, What Exactly Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Let me start by quickly tell you what the Plantar Fascia is. It’s a thick band of tissue that connects from the heel to the balls of the feet. Its job is to provide shock absorption and support for the foot when you are weight-bearing.
Plantar Fasciitis is when that band of tissue gets inflamed. Flat feet, high arches, improper footwear, standing on concrete floors for hours a day, increasing your exercise routine too quickly, etc., can all cause plantar fasciitis.
The good news is that with the correct treatment, you can get rid of plantar fasciitis and get back to doing all the things you need, want, and love to do!
What Is The Correct Treatment?
The correct treatment is not just one but a number of things.
Your first step is to make sure you are in the correct shoe for your specific foot.
This might sound simple. I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘I’m an 8.5 in women’s, and the department store is having a sneaker sale, I’ll get what feels right,’ but in reality, that is not necessarily the case.
According to a medical study, only 28 – 37% of people wear shoes that are the proper fit! It has also been found that your shoe size is very likely to change as you age. That’s why it is crucial to get your foot measured correctly and regularly to ensure you have shoe sized to your foot.
Over the years, I have developed a couple of tips for finding your proper footwear: (You’ll need to grab a second person to give you a hand!)
- The widest part of your foot should fit in the widest part of the shoe.
- There should be a ½-1/4 inch between the end of your toe and the shoe.
- You should measure your foot on a Brannock Device. (This is the standard instrument used at most shoe stores.) (Please note that measuring both Heel to Toe and Heel to Ball (Arch length) is essential!)
- Make sure your foot isn’t spilling over the edge of the shoe. *When you are looking straight down, can you see the sole of the shoe? If not… the shoe is too narrow for your foot!
The next step to ensuring you have proper footwear for your foot is making sure you have the adequate shoe type!
Heel And Arch Pain: Shoe Shapes And Types
There are a variety of different shoe types and shapes. To classify the shoe’s shape, you want to turn the shoe upside and look at the bottom of it.
Curve lasted shoe – The soles pinch in at the arch for a more narrow fit. These generally fit the average foot type.
Straight lasted shoe – The sole is a more straight outline. These generally fit a wider, flatter foot type.
Semi curve last – The in-between of the straight and curved. These generally fit the in-between foot type.
Some of the different types of shoes are:
Motion control shoe (alignment changing) – For a more flatter foot. They have extra dense material at the back of the shoe to push up on the back of the foot.
Stability shoe (alignment changing) – They have extra dense material in through the arch for low weight barring arch facilitating better alignment
Neutral cushion shoe – These are for a Normal to high arch that just needs cushioning or support but not to change the alignment of the foot
Zero drop – The support in the arch and the heel is at the same level as the shoe. (Worn for a more natural feel for running and walking mechanics)
*I would like to mention that there is no specific type of shoe that helps with Plantar Fasciitis. Instead, you need to make sure you have just the right shoe for your foot type.
Let me repeat this because it’s crucial… Marrying the right shoe to your foot is the KEY!
Along with the appropriate shoe size, it is also important that you are wearing supportive shoes. The most supportive shoes that are also made for specific foot types are running shoes.
The Importance Of Proper Footwear
One thing I’d like to mention is that you CAN walk and live everyday life in running shoes, but you CAN’T run in walking shoes! A good way to confirm that the shoe has the support you are looking for is to turn the shoe upside down and if you can bend it at the toe of the shoe, but the arch of the shoe is stiff and difficult to bend; this is what you want!
I’ve mentioned all of this to reiterate the importance of proper footwear! But what I really recommend is seeing an expert who knows the subtle difference between shoe models and brands to fit you! I have found over the years that this is the way to get the most significant results for the money you spend on shoes! In fact, our Carlisle office is located right beside a shoe store because we believe in proper footwear so much!
So I highly recommend you check out the running/ walking shoe store right beside us – Appalachian Running Company to be properly fitted!
The second step that I recommend is seeing your Physical Therapist.
Here at Cardin & Miller Physical Therapy, we not only treat Plantar Fasciitis, but we specialize in it!
Your Physical Therapist will perform a thorough evaluation to determine what is causing your heel and arch pain. Then, the Physical Therapist will work to reduce any soft tissue tightness and irritation you might be having. They will also work to restore the range of motion around your foot and ankle as well as strengthen the muscles surrounding the problem area.
The benefit of seeing an expert to treat your ailment is they know exactly what works and how to do it!
For Example, when someone comes to me with Plantar Fasciitis pain, I know that if I don’t treat the soft tissue and its tightness and irritation, no matter what I do, the patient will continue to suffer. Now every treatment plan is different, but generally speaking, it’s vital for me to use hands-on soft tissue release techniques.
Followed by stretching out the joints and muscles in the foot and ankle. We really try to get as much mobility as possible so that the foot functions properly when you are fully weight-bearing.
The next step in the therapy plan is taping to provide support in the arch and heel and teach the muscles to maintain proper foot function. This will ultimately help decrease the pain in the heel and the arch.
We will then create a specific strengthening program to increase strength and stabilize the muscles in your feet.
And the last step in the Physical Therapy treatment plan: retraining you on how to walk. It might sound silly, but people who are in constant heel and arch pain have been compensating in their walking mechanics to help alleviate some of the pain. That’s why it’s so vital that we work on retraining you on the proper foot mechanics in walking.
The last step in the proper treatment plan is getting fit for a pair of Custom Foot Orthotics.
Custom Foot Orthotics are a device that is made specifically for your foot type. We have you stand on a force plate and then walk across for static and dynamic readings. The force plate then registers your foot mechanics. A Physical Therapist will then analyze the scan results and order precise orthotics that are printed out specifically to your feet’s needs.
The orthotics work by supporting your arch and distributing the pressure across your foot evenly, thereby relieving the pain in your heel and arch. The Orthotics just slip into your shoe, your properly fitted shoe, and there you have it! A blueprint for success for address your heel and arch pain!
How Good Would It Be…?
- To walk without a limp
- To stand without needing to sit due to foot pain
- To keep up with your kids or grandkids
- To return to your exercise routine or recreational activities
We can help you reach these goals. We don’t just generalize your condition. Instead, we will work with you to craft a custom treatment package that’s best for you. After all, we are all unique as individuals and built differently. What works for others may not necessarily work for you.
Call Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy today at 717-229-9370 to schedule your free screen, which is a one-on-one session with one of our physical therapists. Or, why not get in touch with us through our contact page?
Get A Free Foot Screening With Cardin & Miller!
We will spend time listening to how your pain began and the specifics of what you are experiencing during the free screen. From there, we can tell you what the next best step is to address your flat feet so that you can get back to living your life without missing out on all the things you need, want, and love to do.
It’s time to ditch the painkillers and get you back to health. We have clinics in Carlisle, Harrisburg, and Mechanicsburg – our expert and friendly staff would be delighted to assist in getting you back on your feet (comfortably) again. We also offer effective physical therapy treatments for back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, and foot/ankle pain.
We look forward to hearing from you and helping you out!