How to Run With Heel Spurs
A heel spur is a bony outgrowth of the heel bone caused by connective tissue inflammation. Heel spurs usually occur underneath the heel or where the tendons of the calf muscles insert into the calcaneus (heel bone), and often happen in conjunction with tendonitis of the Achilles tendon.
How will I know if I have heel spurs?
Heel spurs cause tenderness and pain underneath or at the back of the heel.
What causes it?
Inflammation may be caused by over-tight muscles or tendons, poor footwear or unbalanced footfall.
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Can I continue to run?
Running is not recommended – it is likely to be painful and the inflammation and injury will become worse.
How can I treat it?
You need to reduce the inflammation and prevent it happening again. Follow these steps to get back running:
1. Stop running if you feel pain or discomfort – this is a sign that you are doing more damage.
2. Ice the inflamed or painful area regularly.
3. For heel spurs underneath the heel, you may need to wear more cushioned everyday shoes or keep your weight off your feet as much as possible. Orthotic inserts can help to take the pressure off the heel and remove stress from a specific tendon or area of the foot to provide relief whilst the inflammation dies down and the tissues repair themselves.
4. For inflammation in the Achilles tendon it may be painful to wear flat shoes (which can stretch the tendon), so shoes with a slight heel which shorten the length of the tendon or inserts to lift your heel may help in the short term. However, if the tendon is short, this is a likely cause of the inflammation, and you need to gently stretch the calf muscles to increase the resting length of the Achilles tendon.
5. Cortisone injections into the inflamed area may be suggested by your doctor or sports injury specialist in acute cases. Although this will reduce the inflammation, avoid running through the injury just because the pain or inflammation has been temporarily reduced (unless you have a race or event you have to take part in). A sports therapist or physiotherapist will assess the cause of the injury and provide advice on how to prevent it re-occurring.
6. You may need a new pair of running shoes with additional support or cushioning.
How long will it take to mend?
Heel spurs may cause no symptoms at all, but if you are experiencing discomfort, try to remedy the cause and reduce the inflammation – the sooner you do this, the sooner you can get back out there! As with most injuries, recovery time will depend upon how bad the inflammation is. You may be able to continue with a lower intensity running program with orthotics reducing the stress whilst you remedy the cause.
Prevention is better than cure
1. Regularly stretch the calf muscles and Achilles tendon to avoid them becoming over-tight.
2. Buy your running shoes from a specialist running shop to ensure a good fit and support for your foot shape and footfall.
Filed Under: Fitness & Health Tips