Heel Pain from Running

Heel Pain From Running Case Study

A 42-year-old male presented to the Heel Clinic complaining of heel pain from running. This gentleman was a fit and healthy individual who was not overweight, did not drink alcohol and was a non-smoker. He had maintained a healthy lifestyle which involved regular running for many years and reports to the sports podiatrist that this was the first time he had experienced heel pain from running. He described the feeling of a bruising sensation under the base of his right heel which was prominent first thing in the morning and after periods of being seated. The heel pain from running regularly had been bothering him for approximately five months and did not seem to be improving. Some of the heel pain would subside if he were to stop running for five or six days, only to return immediately following a 5 km run. This gentleman reports to the sports podiatrist that in the past he had experienced shin splints but this was treated by a replacement and an alternative choice of running shoe. This patient informs the podiatrist that he paid a visit to his general practitioner and explained to her that he was experiencing heel pain from running and that it was affecting his ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle. To this end, the GP referred the patient for an ultrasound of his left foot.

The results from the ultrasound confirmed that the patient had developed plantar fasciitis and he was informed that this was the most likely cause of the heel pain from running that had been bothering him for five months.

What Causes Heel Pain From Running?

In order to determine the cause of this patient’s heel pain from running, the sports podiatrist carried out a biomechanical assessment and requested that the patient run on the treadmill without shoes. This sports podiatrist informed the patient that his biomechanics were good and his foot function did not display any cause for concern. The patient had a stable foot type and his calf muscles displayed good range, allowing for healthy movement through the ankle joint. The sports podiatrist was ultimately required to rely on further questioning as to the cause of the heel pain from running. It became apparent following further discussion that this patient had recently began to train in a much more hilly area with steep inclines. The sports podiatrist informed the patient that the likely cause of his heel pain from running was due to an increased load on the plantar fascia due to forefoot striking on hills.

Treatment Of Heel Pain From Running

This patient accepted the proposal that he had developed heel pain from running on hills and therefore agreed to revert to level surfaces. The sports podiatrist explained that the healing of his plantar fascia would be assisted by the application of shockwave therapy. The patient agreed to receive his first shockwave therapy session during his first appointment and the podiatrist installed the Sydney heel pain mobile phone application onto the patient’s device. It was explained to the patient that the mobile phone application contained his treatment plan including a list of known factors that can irritate the plantar fascia and should therefore be avoided. This included but was not limited to home remedies.

This patient received a total of four sessions, at weekly intervals, of shockwave therapy and his foot was strapped with rigid sports tape following each session. He reported to the sports podiatrist that his heel pain when running was becoming more and more bearable each week. The start-up pain first thing in the morning resolved within two weeks. After the fourth session of shockwave therapy the patient informed the podiatrist that he was approximately 90% pain-free. Due to his speedy recovery and significant improvement in heel pain when running, standing and walking it was decided to stop shockwave therapy treatment and allow further healing to continue naturally.

If you suffer with heel pain when running or if you suspect plantar fasciitis you should consult with a suitably qualified sports podiatrist. The podiatrists at the Heel Clinic have a special interest in plantar fasciitis.

Heel Clinic Sydney
8211 0600