Rest is best when you find yourself with a heel spur
December 8, 2006
If you are a runner or an athlete who uses his or her legs in aerobic movement, you may sometime find yourself the proud possessor of a heel spur. Anyone who suffers this malady can tell you it hurts. It doesn’t go away quickly, and if overlooked, it can become chronic. At the very least, it will curb your exercise activities.
Heel-spur symptoms are deep, tender areas on the bottom of your heel, and can hurt into the sole of your foot. When you first notice the pain, it may only show itself in the morning before you work out, and then again following the workout. It will be the least painful during your exercise. If you look closely, you may even have swelling in the heel.
Increases in speed, overtraining, sprinting movements and running on concrete can all contribute to a heel spur. The bone spur is formed with the continual tearing of the lining of the heel bone by an overly strong plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a tough band of connective tissue running along the length of the bottom of the foot. It is composed of three strips of tissue, with the middle strip being the thickest. A layer of calcium deposits form with each tearing and begin to build up a shelf of bone that thickens and forms a heel spur at the insertion of the plantar fascia. The bone spur now makes itself known with irritation and heel bursitis.
Heel spurs are one of the most common injuries to occur to the long-distance runner, and its causes can be many. If your shoes are worn down on the heel and lack rear foot control or cushioning, or if your shoes have tight, unyielding heel counters that pull, you will be a candidate for heel pain. One of the most common causes of heel spurs is abnormal position of the foot. It could be in both feet or in one, but that one foot will take you out of the running game, believe me.
Treatment? See your sports doctor and get a true diagnosis. But in any case, lay off your exercise schedule and use the RICE method for injury treatment. Get a good opinion on the best pair of shoes, and increase the amount of padding in that shoe, if you can. Your doctor may advise anti-inflammatory medications and ultrasound. If you catch the heel-spur problem early, you may have only a short time to sit out your sport. But if you wait until you limp, you could be out for a long, long time.
• Jerry Vance is the owner of Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through the Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.