Let’s talk shoes and surfaces. The principle for this remedy is simple, always wear good shoes that properly fit and avoid walking/running on hard surfaces! When you have heel pain you should really treat your feet like they are broken. Wearing slippers, sandals, or only socks will not suffice. Have your shoes on all the time, even at home, or at least until the heel pain improves or heals. Having comfortably fitting shoes is pivotal because the last thing you need is for them to aggravate the heel pain! The right pair of shoes will also help your recovery. I have listed the Proper-Shoe Test below.
- SQUEEZE the heel counter (located at the back of the shoe, above the sole). It should be stiff and stable, providing your heel with a snug, secure fit.
- TWIST the arch. If it twists too much then it will not provide enough arch support. You want it to be somewhat stiff with more cushioning for high-arched feet and more rigid for low-arched feet. It is best to have firm plastics or foams under the arch and denser materials in the mid-sole.
- PUSH the heel cushion. It needs to have enough cushion to allow for shock absorption (this is especially important for people with high arches).
- BEND the ball of the shoe. The shoe should bend at the ball of the foot, if it doesn’t, there will be added strain on the heel.
1. Bad Surfaces:
- Concrete, Asphalt and Other Hard, Solid Surfaces absorb almost no shock. They amplify the pressure on your feet, so avoid them at all cost.
- Soft sandy beaches or grassy tracts may not be completely ideal either. Unattended wild grass fields are uneven with hidden bumps, dips, roots, and debris that could trip you.
- Inclines, like hills, force the plantar fascia to bear most of your body weight, which is particularly bad for someone with heel pain.
2. Good Surfaces:
- Dirt, gravel, or wood chip paths in good condition are great choices for a walk. Your best options for taking a walk are choosing either the grass surface of a park, which is normally soft and even, or the sand near the waterline of a beach.
- Use cushioning, like a flat foam pad or even a boat cushion on the shower floor.
ACTION STEPS FOR SHOES & SURFACES
- Do the Proper-Shoe Test when checking shoes for quality. Remember to squeeze the heel counter (should be stiff and stable), grab both ends of the shoe and twist (arch should not bend), and press the heel up and forward to see if the ball of the foot bends (it should).
- Walk Only on Soft Surfaces. Use a foam pad to cushion the shower floor.
Remember having heel pain is an indicator that something is up with your body. Try treating your feet as if they are broken until your heels improve. Wear shoes and socks all of the time or at least until the heel pain improves. Use the Proper-Shoe Test to ensure that a pair of shoes is right for you. A bad heel counter on a shoe allows the heel to move around too much and could worsen the pain. A bad arch support causes the arch to flatten and puts more pressure on the heel. An unbending ball of the foot leaves the heel to take on additional strain. Surfaces that are good for your feet include: carpet, even grass, soft sand, dirt, and wood chip paths. Hard surfaces like concrete, unattended grass fields, and steep hills are bad for your feet. A little daily prevention is worth it in the long run.