Do you suffer from heel pain when running? 1

Whether you are a novice or regular runner, preparing your body for Run Reigate will help prevent injury and hopefully get you through the finishing line pain-free.

As we countdown to the race on Sunday, September 19, healthcare experts at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in Horley will be sharing their top tips – from how to prevent and treat heel, hip, knee and back pain to looking after your heart and how to cope with that `wee’ problem for women runners. And there will be advice for young runners too.

So, whether you are aiming for the half marathon, 10k, 5K or kids’ race, keep an eye on this page for a healthy Run Reigate body!

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First up to the starting line in this series is heel pain……with expert advice from Mr Deepak Pabari,  a consultant podiatric surgeon who has recently opened a heel pain clinic at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital. He says:

“You may have heard of policeman’s heel, otherwise known as plantar fascilitis, which is pain on the bottom of the foot around the heel and arch. This is one of the most common foot problems not just in runners but many people who are on their feet a lot, such as postal workers. The other common heel problem is Achilles’ tendinopathy, an injury to the Achilles’ tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone.

Both these injuries are caused by over-use. My biggest advice to anyone who is planning to Run Reigate and starts to suffer with heel pain is do not run through it.  Ignoring the symptoms and continuing your training could lead to greater problems.  With rest and the right treatment, you can get back in the race.

So, what do heel problems feel and look like?

Plantar fascilitis is pain at the bottom of the heel. You will not see anything – it won’t be swollen or red – but you may have a sharp pain, particularly first thing in the morning or when you get up to walk after sitting down for a while.

Achilles’ tendinopathy is pain at the back of the heel, and you may see some swelling and redness.

Another condition is heel bumps, which is an abnormal prominence at the back of the heel – sometimes called `pump bumps’ because your trainers can put pressure on this area.  Often this is an inherited deformity but running can rub the area and cause inflammation. You may notice redness and swelling around the lump, and it may be tender to touch.

 

Keep an eye out for heel pain in your children if they are training for the kids’ race. There is a growth plate in the heel and if your child is a runner, or doing a lot of sport, this may become inflamed during a growth spurt, which can occur between the ages of eight and 12 years old.

What causes heel pain?

The biggest causes for runners are over-use, ill-fitting trainers, and running on hard surfaces – especially if you are new to the sport. During lockdown, I saw several patients with heel problems who had recently taken up walking or running.

Runners with overtight calf muscles are also predisposed to heel problems, as are people with high arches and flat feet.

Are they preventable?

One of the most important things you can do to prevent heel injury is buy quality trainers, which suit your feet. Good sports shops will have trainers to accommodate the shape of your foot even if you have a high arch or are flat-footed.

Also, have your gait analysed so that you can buy trainers to match. In the heel clinic, I analyse gait as well as examine and scan the foot, and often recommend orthotics (insoles and arch supports) which can be worn inside the trainer to prevent injury or recurrence of the problem.

It is also important to always warm up and stretch out your calf muscles at the start and end of a training session – especially if you are prone to tight calves.

If you are new to running, start gently on soft surfaces such as grass before moving to pavements.

What to do if you have heel pain

First, rest your foot and use ice to help reduce the inflammation. However, continue with your stretching routine. You may find this is all you need to do for a few weeks but if the problem doesn’t go away seek medical advice.

At the heel clinic, we have several treatment options, all of which are non-invasive.  A scan and gait analysis will pinpoint the cause of the problem and the use of orthotics and/or non-invasive treatments will help to stabilize the foot and get rid of the pain. Many runners tell me that, as well as eliminating heel pain, their running has improved simply by following our advice.”

Enquire today for more information on heel pain clinic