Tired and aching feet often appear to be accepted by most people. However, sometimes it also comes with heel pain, with around one in ten people suffering from such pain at some point in their life. The most common cause of heel pain is caused by activities such as hiking or running (particularly if you’re exploring rocky or uneven paths) as they place repeated strain on the arch of your foot and the pain spreads to your heel, especially if there is a lack of sufficient cushioning and support in the areas of the feet where it’s most needed.
Heel pain is usually felt either as a constant dull aching, or an intense pain that jabs with each step you take. The pain often lessens over time, with the first few steps you take being the most painful and it may seem that walking temporarily improves the pain, but it often worsens again afterwards.
What causes heel pain?
The main cause of heel pain can be either a sudden damage to the area, or a gradual damage that has taken place over many months or years. This damage can result in tiny tears inside the tissue of the arch of your foot and thicken the tissue. Also don’t rule out stress fractures or lack of cushioning in your heel as potential causes of heel pain.
Top tips for adventurous feet
There are plenty of ways you can help protect your feet from getting tired and aching while hiking. If you’re heading into the great outdoors, here’s how to prepare your feet for your big adventure:
Too much weight puts extra pressure on your feet and can often contribute to heel pain, so make sure you’re not carrying anything too heavy in your backpack.
- Wear well-fitting shoes appropriate for walking. Try on different brands, styles and sizes. Wear your hiking socks and shop for shoes in the afternoon or evening, as your feet expand over the course of a day.
- Stretch before you set off, focusing on your calf muscles and feet.
- If you do find that you have heel pain, take some time to rest. By walking less and not standing for too long, you’ll recover more quickly and be back out hiking sooner than if you plough on. An ice pack on the affected heel can also help to reduce inflammation and get you back on your feet.