Google heel pain and you will find that the number 1 cause of heel pain is bone spurs/plantar fasciitis.
The most common cause is poor arch support.
Make sure you have good supportive shoes fitted at a running store, not a sporting goods or other store.
Another cause of pain could be stress fractures.
Give the running a rest for a week or so. If it still hurts when you attempt to run, see a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon and find out what's up.
I have an unusual heel pain that seems to be getting better after 2 weeks of rest. I read a recommendation to put heel cushions in my shoes which I tried, but then I found another place that said you can use cosmetic sponges, which I tried and even like better.
Started C25K 2/14/10 Age 51 and NEVER have run before.
Coventry Challenge 5K 3/20/10, end of W5 of C25K. 40:44
Spring Forward 5K (YMCA) 4/10/10 39:57
Focus 5K Run/Walk 5/13/10 32:24... in Orlando on a totally flat course
Coventry Challenge 5K 3/19/11 37:59
?Operation Backpack 5K 5/21/11 ??? fast-paced race, finished next to last
Coventry Challenge 5K 3/17/12 38:11
It depends a lot on exactly where it hurts. Below are links to a couple articles that talk about different issues resulting in heel pain. Plantar Fasciitis (PF) is, indeed, the most common cause among runners. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot from the back of the toes to the front of the heel. The problem usually occurs as a strain or partial tearing where the fascia connects to the heel. A pretty good self-test for PF is to "press your thumb up hard on the middle of your heel. If you feel pain, it's plantar fasciitis."
A thread on PF
If your foot hurts when you get up in the morning then it is plantar faciitis.
1) Shoes - make sure you have a good pair of running shoes. Go to a real running store - not a store in a mall. Have them fit you with shoes appropriate to your foot type. Expect to spend $80-$110. If the shoes don't feel right then try a different pair/model or manufacturer. If you run in them and they don't feel right then take them back.
2) Stride or gait - don't try to run faster by having a long stride. Speed is gained by increasing foot turnover. Stride will lengthen naturally.
3) Over stretching - conventional wisdom dictates that you should stretch your calf. Plantar Faciitis is caused by inflamation of the tendons in the arch. Over stretching the tendons prevents them from healing and worsens the injury. When dealing with this problem lay or sit on the floor with your legs flat and place your foot up against a wall to hold it 90 degrees relative to your leg. Hold this for 30 seconds or so.
If new shoes, natural stride and light stretching doesn't help within a few weeks then run less until you get stronger or go so a orthopedist or podiatrist. Good luck.
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I have to disagree with Janet above on the need for more support and cushioning if your heel pain is being caused by plantar fasciitis. This injury comes about when the foot muscles are weak and can't handle the new stress of increased running volume or intensity. The best treatment is not to get arch supports or motion control shoes, but rather to strengthen your feet. Once any acute pain subsides, try some of the following exercises to strengthen your feet and lower legs:
So much research has shown that people who don't wear shoes (indigenous) people just don't get foot or lower leg problems. Research by Harvard Professor Daniel Lieberman can be viewed here on this info: http://www.barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/. Bottom line is that more shoe is not necessarily better and most times, less support and more strength work is the answer to your problems.
Good luck! - Fitz.
Great article! About the best I've seen and very balanced. The ultimate viewpoint is barefoot/minimalist but they present all sides of the story. Well worth reading for anyone, whether you're a barefoot, forefoot striker or a traditional, shod heelstriker or anywhere in between.
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