Pain in the heel when walking

Your pain pattern,
What aggravates it,
How to get relief,
and more…


How People Describe This Pain Pattern

People complain of pain on the bottom of the heel of the foot, especially with pressure on the heel and while the foot is being twisted. It is worse when walking on uneven surfaces. They often get some relief from a padded heel cup or supportive shoes that have a stiffer outer sole and reduce movement of the foot within the shoe. This problem is frequently not addressed until the joints of the ankle have become stubbornly fixated.

With further examination, there is stiffness or swelling in a sensitive spot just on the front edge of the heel. When I press into the spot, the heel pain is intense. Movement in the ankle doesn’t bother them unless they also have a trigger point in the soleus.



How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

Although this often comes from stepping on protruding or twisted terrain, it can also come from a poorly fitted shoe or a blow to the foot. I’ve had this in my own heel from over-tightening the laces in shoes before lunging in the gym. The overly tight lace around the front of the ankle displaced joints as my foot slid forward in the shoe with each lunge. Here is a great video about how to tie your shoes with a “heel-lock” to prevent that.

Self-Care

You may get relief by freezing a plastic bottle of water and rolling your foot across it for a few minutes with gentle pressure. The ice temporarily diminishes the pain response and releases muscles that are held tight with trigger points. The movement across the uneven surface often breaks up minor joint fixations. Ice plunges are also helpful and, when done with consistency, can make big differences quickly. If it has gone on for a while or you don’t get relief from this self-care, you probably need direct work from your Neuromuscular therapist to decompress the ankle joints for lasting relief.


Therapy Notes

This pattern can be easily confused with several other trigger points that produce pain in the heel. The soleus trigger point is very similar but tends to extend up the Achilles tendon and produces stiffness in the ankle. Soleus and quadratus plantae are often active at the same time and both need to be addressed. The tibialis posterior trigger point produces pain across the same areas but tends to focus on the Achilles tendon and the foot pain is broader across the bottom of the foot, focusing on the arch. The sacrotuberous ligament also produces heel pain but the focus of pain tends to be in the center of the calf.


This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.


Weekly Featured Post

Optimizing Tension for
the Best Day Ever

This post explores this idea and optimizing the ever-present tension in our lives for our best performance.

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

Question? Comment? Typo?
IntegrativeWorks.com
(404) 226-1363
integrativeworks@gmail.com

Please note that some of the product links in the posts are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission when you purchase through that link. I’ve personally used most of these products and believe are genuinely helpful. Some products aren’t appropriate for me so I recommend it based on my experience with clients or the reviews online. The commissions I make are small and not worth promoting lesser products that would not produce suitable value. And please note, I do not advocate buying something that you can’t afford or that you’re not yet ready to implement.

Leave a Comment