Staying active is better for health than any pill or potion. One long-term benefit is that it lowers the risk of disability later in life, yet sports has a small downside: Many times, while playing our feet work extra hard taking the entire weight of the body onto our heels, thereby increasing the chances for the bruised heel.
What exactly is a bruised heel?
At times where there is constant bounding as in long distance running or even during sports where our heels take the entire weight of the body. The soft pad of fatty tissue gets flattened and may also at times get displaced, which in turn results in bruising of the heel bone. This causes extreme pain that can range from mild to severe. This condition is also called as foot-pad contusion.
If the bruised heel is not treated timely, it can also increase the possibility of a fracture. The main symptom of a bruised heel is an intense and excruciating pain that feels like a deep contusion on the bottom of the foot, just in front of the heel.
Common symptoms of heel bruises include:
- Swelling in the heel area or area around the heel
- Pain while walking, running, jumping or while standing still
- A sensation of tenderness in the heel area, especially when the foot is subjected to pressure.
What causes a bruised heel?
It has been found that a heel injury mostly results in the displacement of the fatty tissue pad thereby exposing the underlying bone to injury. Also, excessive weight and wearing of the wrong kind of footwear without proper cushioning to protect the heel have been found to be the root cause behind a heel bruise. Even age is a factor that can be responsible for a bruised heel. As we get older, the bones become more brittle thereby increasing the chances of the bruised heel.
Causes of Bruised Heel
- Lack of proper footwear or going barefoot
- Being overweight
- Uneven surface level to walk or run upon
How to heal a bruised heel?
The good thing is one can overcome this agonizing pain and soothe the pain by following these simple remedies to cure that include:
Protect your heel
Use a cushioning pad or gel while wearing a footwear. Use shock-absorbing sneakers. Wear shoes that are low-heeled, and that fit your foot snugly. This is specifically important if you are an athlete. Runners, in particular, should be vigilant to be sure that they change their footwear regularly to ensure that the shock absorption mechanism is working to keep the heel from bruising further.
Don’t: Avoid any shoes that don’t provide support or that rub against your heel, like flip-flops.
Use RICE (Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation)
It is crucial that you do not offer stress on the heel and put it to complete rest till the bruising gets relieved. Any weight put on the heel will only worsen the condition causing further damage which could tend to be more severe and cause a permanent loss.
As such if you are an athlete, suffering from this condition, it is advisable to take a break from the sport for a few weeks until the bruised heel pain has subsided.
If there is any swelling, it is suggested that you apply an ice pack on the inflammation to reduce and relieve the pain.
For this, you can consider using ice packed in a towel and apply this twice daily. If ice is not available, you can also soak your feet in ice cold water for 10 minutes twice daily to get rid of the inflammation.
Taping the heel is necessary since this will help lessen the pain as well as compress the soft tissue of the heel to give necessary support.
Most doctors suggest keeping the foot in an elevated position. This ensures that the blood flow to the injury does not alleviate the swelling since this will result in increased pain in the injured foot.
Exercises for Bruised Heel
To ease the discomfort caused due to a bruised heel, try these simple yet effective exercises:
- Toe curls
Lay a towel on the floor, and stand on it. Seize the towel by curling your toes. Then straighten your toes and release the towel. Repeat the same for one to two minutes, twice daily.
You can also exercise toe curls while standing on a thick book. Curl the toes around the edge of the book, and then straighten them. Repeat the same for one to two minutes, twice a day.
- Ankle circles
Sit in a chair, extend one leg out in front of you. Slowly circle the foot at the ankle ten times, first in one direction and then the other. Repeat this several times a day.
Unfortunately, athletes, in particular, are often encouraged to ignore pain and keep working out. This is hugely ill-advised in many types of injuries, including heel bruises.
Exercising or employing in sporting activities when the heel is in a painful state can lead to a host of other injuries, some of which are quite severe and dangerous, so do let yourself heal. If not, you may find yourself in a position where you have developed a critical condition and have no alternative but to face a much more extended convalescence than you would have had initially. A full return to sports activities should not take place until your doctor has authorized it.