How Heel Spurs can Affect Runners
Is there anything as awesome as running—especially when the conditions are just right (sunny, not too hot, not too cold, etc.)?
We mean it. And we love seeing so many runners and athletes out in our community!
(We’d like to extend a quick shout-out to anyone who ran the Pear Blossom Run lately!)
Taking care of your body is great and we applaud everyone who’s being proactive with their health. Our own Dr. Merrill is a runner himself and we love to take care of running ailments. Due to his “runner” status, Dr. Merrill’s no stranger to running pain; he knows firsthand what sore feet feel like and understands what you’re experiencing.
And because we’re no strangers to running, we also know that runners are going to have issues. It’s only natural. There’s only so much time you can spend pushing through it before your body really starts to feel it.
We see plenty of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and the like in our office, but there’s one condition we’d like to focus on today—heel spurs.
Heel spurs might not be as well-known as other conditions, but if left untreated, they can definitely put a damper on your body’s ability to move. Luckily, we’ve got some pointers to help you regain your movement!
What are heel spurs?
Heel spurs are calcium deposits on the bottom of your heel bone. That probably doesn’t sound too bad; however, this has big consequences for your feet—especially if you’re a runner.
Truth be told, “calcium deposits” is actually a pretty benign way of describing a rather painful and uncomfortable condition.
Heel spurs are usually the result of the plantar fascia (the thick band at the bottom of your foot) tightening, but they can also be caused by a biomechanical issue or an imbalance. In turn, this tends to put a considerable amount of pressure on the heel bone.
What does this mean for runners?
Well, this boney protrusion often causes sharp pain when running. Obviously, that’s not great. While many runners might try to push through the pain, we’d recommend that you make sure you don’t do this.
Whereas we applaud your commitment to your health, continuing to run through that pain will have huge repercussions. If anything, this will only make your pain and condition worse.
In the meantime, refrain from running (as hard as that might be for those of you who are truly dedicated). You can continue to do other exercise, but anything that requires you to put your full weight on your heels is a bad idea. Stick to yoga, lifting, or swimming in the meantime.
While that’s a fine enough starting point, it doesn’t help you get back on the trails and doing what you love. As a podiatrist practice that takes pride in being part of Medford’s active community, we sympathize and want to do everything we can do to help.
So what can we do?
Our team here at Southern Oregon foot & Ankle has several possibly treatment options we might recommend:
- RICE therapy. There is really nothing like rest and ice to recover from injuries. Taking the time not to run and take care of yourself is typically a good first step. Again, you can still remain active; just be sure that you aren’t putting excessive amounts of pressure on the affected area.
It’s also worth repeating that we strongly encourage you to keep tabs on your feet even AFTER you return to running, hiking, or walking. A few good days of relaxation could be thrown off if you dive headfirst back into a particularly difficult training plan. Gradually increasing the distance, speed, and intensity will be your best bet. When returning, take it slow and if necessary, inquire at our office for a timeline.
- Custom orthotics. If you’re putting too much weight and strain on your plantar fascia, you’re only going to keep aggravating your heel spur. A custom orthotic, specifically fitted to your unique feet and biomechanics, will help alleviate this.
- MLS Laser. This innovative—and noninvasive (no surgery!)—laser therapy will boost your body’s recovery process by applying a light, warming sensation to the affected area. This helps your body send the necessary nutrients to help your recover quicker.
We would generally recommend several short, convenient treatments for your pain. MLS laser therapy treatments are short and pain-free. Patients usually experience a light, warming sensation, but very few have any issues withstanding this. (Many would call this a ‘tickle.’)
These are just a few of the treatments Dr. Merrill, Dr. Kamery, and company might recommend in order to get you back on your feet ASAP. Obviously, we will not be able to fully recommend a course of action until you come see us, so stop on in!
We’d love to hear from you. Simply give our Medford office a call at (541) 776-3338 or fill out our online contact form to have us reach out to you. (If you feel so inclined, please consider leaving us a Google review. Inquire at checkout.)