Why does my heel hurt after walking?

2022/10/12 Home Education and advice

Why does my heel hurt after walking?
Daniel Abrego Lemus Daniel Abrego Lemus Physiotherapist

The summer of 2022 was for many an opportunity to go on an exploration trip. Unlike winter trips, which are usually more relaxing trips down south in the sun for many Quebecers, summer trips are involve more of an excursion, going somewhere new and discovering the sights and sounds. These trips, although pleasant, often involve a lot of walking. This overload of work on the lower limbs could have caused injuries for many of you. One of the most frequently encountered injuries in our clinic over the past month is the Achilles tendonitis.

What is an Achilles tendonitis?

The suffix “itis” means inflammation. Here we can understand that tendonitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone at the back of the foot. This inflammation is mostly caused by overuse in everyday life or by playing certain type of sports. Therefore, drastically increasing your walking volume, such as during excursion trips, can be one of the probable causes of your heel pain.

How to recognize a tendinitis of the Achilles tendon?

The most frequent symptoms that we can encounter with this pathology are:

  • Swelling in the tendon
  • Pain in the tendon during activity or after physical activity
  • Discomfort felt during palpation
  • A stiffness felt in the tendon as well as in the calf muscle
  • Pain / stiffness in the foot during the first morning steps

tendon achille

What to do when you suspect Achilles tendonitis?

The first piece of advice we can offer you when you start feeling these discomforts or pains is to give yourself a period of rest. The goal is to reduce the stress on the tendon that has been overloaded to give it the necessary time to heal in a proper fashion. To temporarily relieve the pain, you can apply ice to the tendon and its attachment on the heel or heat to the muscle of the calf.

If the pain bothers you with walking, a heel lift or pad can be placed in your shoe and could help you reduce stress on the tendon and thus reduce the pain you feel.

Taking the medication for a short period of time can help you better manage your symptoms. Do not forget to consult a health professional such as a doctor or a pharmacist to obtain the medication that is right for you.

After a few days, it is important to start moving again. Contrary to what many may think, movement is the best way to promote healing. You can tolerate some discomfort during your activities if this increase in discomfort is not significant, and it disappears quickly depending on your physical activity. In addition, posterior chain stretching exercises such as calf exercises and strengthening exercises such as heel raises off a step are important to promote the healing of your tendon.

And if the pain doesn’t go away…

If you feel this type of pain and it lasts more than 10 days, don’t wait to consult one of our physiotherapists for the appropriate treatments. An early consultation will allow you to quickly get back on your feet without pain. The physiotherapist will be able to guide you in your establishment by providing you with an exercise program adapted for your specific condition. In addition, they will be able to apply different therapeutic approaches such as manual therapy, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound modalities to promote the healing of your tendon. Finally, they will be able to guide you to balance your activities to return to your sports activities in complete safety.

tendon achille

Act quick to treat an Achilles tendonitis

If you have walked more than you are used to, because of a long excursion trip or a new sport, and feel pain near the heel of your foot, you may have an Achilles tendonitis.  The good news is that with some initial rest and ice, pain and swelling can be minimized.  To make a safe return to all your activities, consult a physiotherapist to know how to prevent the injury from recurring.  You still have a lot of walking and exploring to do!

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