What To Do About Heel Pain After Running – Causes & Recovery Tips

Whether you’re new to running or you’ve been at it for years, you’ve likely experienced nagging aches and pains in your pursuit of fitness.

Heel pain is a common complaint with runners, and when you think about the punishment our heels take during each run, it’s no surprise they might act up occasionally.

Here is what you need to know about heel pain after running.

Why Do My Heels Hurt So Much?

Heel pain, also known as plantar fasciitis, can be annoying, painful and can even impact your weekly mileage. It can be especially troublesome for people with jobs that require them to be on their feet a lot.

Plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation of a band of tissue which is located on the bottom of your foot. Without giving you an unwanted, complicated anatomy lesson, that tissue links your toes with your heel bone.

What Are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?

If you are affected by plantar fasciitis, you’ll know. It isn’t a quiet, discreet injury -- there’s no way to ignore it.

Does this situation sound familiar? You get out of bed in the morning, and with the first few steps you take, you feel a stabbing, awful pain in your heels.

We’ve been there, and it can be agonizing.

Sometimes those first few steps are the worst of it, but other times, your foot can feel worse as you go about your day.

What Does It Mean For My Long Term Health?

Before you start writing your last will and testament, you should take a deep breath and try not to worry. You’ll be fine as long as you take it seriously.

You don’t want to blow off plantar fasciitis -- in other words, this isn’t the time to bump up your weekly mileage or start intensifying your runs. Bumping up your training too soon and dramatically is probably what got you in this mess to begin with.

You’ll want to nip this problem in the bud. If you put it off and allow it to progress, it’s going to be harder to treat and it’ll take longer to correct the problem.

Here are some tips for dealing with plantar fasciitis:

  • Give yourself a rest day: For some cases of plantar fasciitis, you simply might need to add a few rest days in your week before resuming a less intensive training program.

You might be okay to run with plantar fasciitis if the pain is mild and seems to resolve

quickly. If your pain continues for a significant portion of your run or if you are worried you

are causing more damage to your heel, take a day off or cut back on your training.

  • Reconsider your shoes: If you haven’t swapped out your running shoes in a while, some extra cushioning or support from a new pair could make all the difference for your heel pain. You might even want to consider buying a new pair of shoes for your other daily activities as well.

  • Perform some stretches: Roll a tennis ball under your foot a few times a day. That will help stretch your tight muscles, which will in turn, help with your heel pain. Another great exercise for plantar fasciitis is stretching your calf muscles. If they are tight, it can contribute to the problem.

  • Run on softer surfaces: If you have access to an indoor or outdoor track, use it. Better yet, try to run in the grass rather than on the road.

Striking your foot repeatedly on a hard surface might aggravate your existing plantar fasciitis, which will slow down your recovery time. 

Stay the Course and You’ll Be Fine

We know that running injuries can be a pain, both literally and figuratively. It’s a downer to have to put the pause on your training, especially if you’ve been making great strides in your time or distance.

But if you take these steps, monitor the situation every day, and lighten up a little on your running schedule, you’ll be back to your old self in no time. And when you are, give your heels the respect they deserve by remembering they need some extra attention sometimes, just like your legs do.