What can I do about the heel pain?
If you walk or run a lot, cut back a little. You probably won't need to stop walking or running altogether.
If you have either flatfeet or a high arch, ask your doctor about using inserts for your shoes called orthotics. Orthotics are arch supports. You will need to be fitted for them.
If you are overweight, losing weight can help lessen your heel pain. If your job involves standing on a hard floor or standing in one spot for long periods, place some type of padding on the floor where you stand.
Are there any exercises that will help?
Stretching exercises for your foot are important. Do the stretches shown here at least twice a day. Don't bounce when you stretch.
Plantar fascia stretch
To do the plantar fascia stretch, stand straight with your hands against a wall and your injured leg slightly behind your other leg. Keeping your heels flat on the floor, slowly bend both knees. You should feel the stretch in the lower part of your leg. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat the stretch 6 to 8 times.
Stand with your hands against a wall and your injured leg behind your other leg. With your injured leg straight, your heel flat on the floor and your foot pointed straight ahead, lean slowly forward, bending the other leg. You should feel the stretch in the middle of your calf. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat the stretch 6 to 8 times.
You can also strengthen your leg muscles by standing on the ball of your foot at the edge of a step and raising up as high as possible on your toes. Relax between toe raises and let your heel fall a little lower than the edge of the step.
It's also helpful to strengthen the foot by grabbing a towel with your toes as if you are going to pick up the towel with your foot. Repeat this exercise several times a day.
Will any medicine help?
Aspirin, acetaminophen (one brand name: Tylenol), naproxen (brand name: Aleve), or ibuprofen (some brand names: Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) can help ease your heel pain. Talk to your family doctor before you take any medicine.
What if my foot still hurts after doing the exercises, using the arch supports and taking other measures?
If stretching, arch supports, medicine and exercises don't help, your doctor can suggest other treatments. You may need to wear splints on your foot at night, tape your foot or have injections of corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory medicines) into the plantar fascia. In a few cases, surgery is needed. You and your doctor can decide which treatment is best for you.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff