Ever heard of Policeman’s Heel?
It’s a common condition, but that doesn’t make it any less of a concern for people who have been unlucky enough to fall victim to it!
Its fancy name is plantar fasciitis, and it occurs when the ligaments that sit between the toes and the heel of the foot – otherwise known as the plantar fascia – begin to thicken due to overuse or general wear and tear.
This results in soreness and stabbing pain in the heel.
Who is at risk of developing the condition?
Policeman’s Heel is particularly prevalent amongst those between the ages of 40 and 60 – but realistically, anyone can succumb to the condition, at any stage of life.
There are certain risk factors that will increase your chances of developing pain in your heel. For example, if you work in a physically demanding job that has you on your feet for most of the day, you’ll be placing your lower limbs under more strain. If you are overweight, or even if you regularly take part in high-impact exercise, you’re placing extra stress on the tissues in your feet and will therefore be more likely to damage your plantar fascia.
If left untreated, this condition can start to have a serious impact on your overall wellbeing. Follow the 3 step process below to banish plantar fasciitis for good and enjoy being mobile again!
Step 1: Make sure you’ve made the right diagnosis
First of all, it’s important to make sure that what you’re experiencing is indeed plantar fasciitis, and not another foot condition altogether.
With plantar fasciitis, the pain in your heel is normally worse first thing in the morning, after a long period of sleep. You’ll notice that it intensifies when you stand up after you’ve been sitting down for a long time, too. It will normally flare up after exercise – not during it.
If you’re unsure as to whether you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis or something else entirely, be sure to visit your GP with a list of your symptoms and he or she will be able to carry out an accurate diagnosis for you.
Step 2: Make changes to your lifestyle.
Once your diagnosis has been confirmed, it’s time to take action!
Losing weight will lessen the amount of pressure you’re placing on your lower body while you’re sitting or standing, and will therefore help to combat the symptoms of Policeman’s Heel.
If you’re a keen runner, or you regularly engage in high impact sports, you may want to adjust your training routine. Choose exercises that won’t place as much stress on your heels and the bottom of your feet, such as swimming or cycling.
And if you know you’re going to be standing or walking for a long period of time, be sure to schedule in regular breaks.
Step 3: Explore alternative treatments if you need to
Still suffering? Don’t worry – there are plenty more ways to soothe your heel pain.
Physical therapy can help to stretch the plantar fascia and strengthen the lower leg muscles, as can night splints (although they can take some getting used to).
Insoles that have been developed to provide extra cushioning to the foot arch will provide some relief, too. There are plenty of insoles on the market, and many of them can even be customised with metatarsal inserts of varying thicknesses, helping you to find the right level of support for each foot. Adding heel lifts of around 6mm-8mm underneath your insoles will take away some of the strain that’s being placed on the tendon and aid the healing process.
If your symptoms are particularly painful, you may want to consider steroid injections. These will need to be administered into the part of the part of the foot that’s the most tender to provide temporary pain relief. It’s best not to consider this as a long-term cure for plantar fasciitis, though, because these injections will weaken the plantar fascia over time, which will almost certainly exacerbate the condition further.
In extreme cases, you may need to resort to shock wave therapy, or surgery to detach the plantar fascia from the heel bone. However, most of you will be able to either manage or eradicate the symptoms of Policeman’s Heel by the following these simple 3 steps over the course of a few weeks or months.