If you're a newer runner who has begun to increase your speed and weekly mileage, you might already be getting a crash course in the common (mild!) aches and pains associated with running. One example is heel pain after running. Besides upping your miles, muscle imbalances, badly fitting shoes, and rocky or steep routes could all be behind that pesky foot pain. The good news? It's easy to stop heel pain in its tracks before it leads to any serious issues.
When it comes to treating any mild injury like heel pain after running, there are various tactics you can try.
Slow your roll, check your shoes
The first step is to scale back on your miles and intensity while you figure out what's taking the pep out of your step. Meanwhile, you can try common at-home treatments for heel pain like applying ice or heat therapy, such as a warm soak in Epsom salts. You might also benefit from taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. These things can potentially do the trick if your pain is relatively minor.
Another effective solution can be analyzing your choice of running shoes. It may be wise to visit your local running store and chat with the experts to determine if a different type of shoe could help you run more comfortably. That might mean more cushioning or changing the stability level of your shoes.
Training to avoid heel pain
Strength training and recovery mechanisms like foam rolling can also be game-changers when it comes to preventing discomfort. If a doctor identifies your heel pain as plantar fasciitis — which can feel like a sharp, stabbing pain on the bottom of your foot — rolling your foot on a frozen water bottle or lacrosse ball can make all the difference. The more frequently you do it, the less of a chore it'll seem.
The terrain you're running on may also be a contributing factor to heel pain if you're particularly injury-prone. Is running on concrete every day the reason for your achy feet? Try a new route on the softer dirt of your local park or wooded trail. You can also swap out a run day for a cross-training session.
Finally, while it may be the last thing you want to do to disrupt your training, sometimes complete rest is all you need to resolve a nagging issue. Missing a day or even a week won't make or break your running goals — but running through pain might leave you sidelined with a bigger injury. Never underestimate the power of a good, healthy break for you and your feet.
Our writer's advice is intended for informational or general educational purposes only. We always encourage you to speak with your physician or healthcare provider before making any adjustments to your running, nutrition, or fitness routines.