Dealing with Post-Holiday Heel Pain

by | Jan 14, 2020

Do your heels have the post-holiday blues?

It’s more common than you might think. In fact, it’s pretty normal for us to see a decent uptick in the number of patients visiting our office for their heel pain woes.

Now, no one likes to start the new year off hobbled by pain and discomfort—especially if you’ve set some ambitious New Year’s Resolutions for yourself. So if you find yourself in this camp, we’d love to help you recover quickly—and learn how to stop the same thing from happening the next time the holiday season comes around!

Causes of Holiday Heel Pain

Of course, heel pain can occur for all sorts of reasons, all year long. But if you find that your pain is especially severe or common during the post-holiday and winter season in general, it may be for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Power shopping (and other holiday activities). December often features several bursts of activity. Cruising the shopping mall, baking cookies or cooking holiday meals, attending parties with family, friends, and co-workers … you get the idea. If you are otherwise fairly sedentary throughout the year, this sudden increase in activity can easily lead to pain.
  • Being a weekend warrior. Bursts of activity around this time of year don’t necessarily have to be holiday-related. Often, a relatively sunny and warm spell after weeks of crummy weather can inspire you to try to cram in as much running, tennis, or outdoor activity as you can in a short period of time.
  • Poor footwear. Given our cool and wet winters, there’s a good chance you’ve spent a lot of time walking around in waterproof boots. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but any time you switch your footwear of choice, you should make sure your shoes or boots are still giving your feet the cushioning and support they require. Unfortunately, many people tolerate ill-fitting boots (given the increased priority on staying warm and dry) much more than ill-fitting walking shoes.
  • Holiday weight gain. This is a minor factor for most people, but it can make a difference if you tend to gain several pounds during the holiday season. Each pound of body weight can correlate to several pounds’ worth of impact forces on your heels with each step.

A Return to Pre-Holiday Foot Health

If Santa brought you a ho, ho, whole lot of heel pain this December (sorry), it’s important that you act quickly to offload this unwanted gift and get back to full strength. Just because a lot of people tend to struggle with heel pain after the holidays doesn’t mean it’s normal or natural, and doesn’t mean you should have to suffer, too!

With any case of chronic heel pain that impairs activity or won’t go away, it’s important for a professional to get a diagnosis and ascertain the most likely causes. (You’d be surprised how complex something as seemingly simple as heel pain can be!)

We will likely recommend some conservative treatment options that can help you manage your heel pain at home, including resting, icing, stretching, and making sure you wear supportive shoes and boots.

If your pain is more stubborn or severe, we may also recommend options such as:

  • A set of over-the-counter arch supports or, if necessary for your situation, custom orthotics. These are especially useful if you have a structural problem with your feet that cannot be adequately addressed by supportive shoes alone.
  • Stronger and longer-lasting pain medications, such as a cortisone injection.
  • Shockwave therapy, an advanced procedure that uses mechanical shockwaves to trigger accelerated tissue healing in soft tissue injuries.
  • Regenerative injections that create an optimal healing environment and also help accelerate pain relief and tissue regeneration. This includes procedures such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and amniotic tissue injections.

At Eugene Foot and Ankle Health Center, staying on the cutting edge of evidence-based research and treatment technology is a core part of who we are. That’s why we offer these advanced therapies that you just won’t find in a typical podiatry office—and why we’re so good at helping you recover quickly from your heel pain, without needing surgery.

Protecting Your Feet Next Year

Now that you understand some of the risks of holiday heel pain—and how to get rid of it—it’s time to make sure you take the appropriate steps to prevent the same thing from happening in 2020!

  • Always wear supportive shoes. This goes for your boots, too. If possible, don’t wear those boots all day—bring a comfy pair of walking shoes to switch into while you’re indoors.
  • Stay active throughout the year. Holiday and weekend warrior activities are less likely to hurt you in the first place if you maintain a healthy, active exercise routine all year long. Your heels will be much better conditioned to absorb the force of those busy days!
  • Warm up, cool down, and hydrate. Just because there are no teams or scoring doesn’t mean that holiday shopping (or other intense physical activities) aren’t an athletic event! Warm up, get your body ready for activity, and drink lots of water throughout the day.
  • Take breaks during your busiest days. Give yourself at least a few minutes to rest your feet every hour or so if you’re going to be standing or walking for an extended period of time.
  • Schedule your activities sensibly. If possible, try not to do multiple long days in a row. Schedule out your shopping, cooking, and party time so you have time to recover!

With prompt treatment and smart preventative strategies, you’ll be back on your feet in no time and should do much better next holiday season!

To schedule your appointment with Dr. McCourt at our office in Eugene, please give us a call today at (541) 683-3351. You can also request an appointment online, and someone from our office will contact you to follow up during regular business hours.

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Eugene

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