Stop Rolling Your Foot On A Bottle For Heel Spurs

Stop Rolling Your Foot On A Bottle For Heel Spurs

Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are two of the most common problems we treat. We’d estimate that we see at least a couple of dozen patients with it every week – if not significantly more. It also means that we successfully help manage this condition for our patients. So here are a couple of things we’d like to highlight from our experience (as board-registered Podiatrists):

  • 70% of patients will have had their heel pain for over 2 months by the time they come and see us, In this time, they report that their symptoms and pain levels have either worsened or have remained the same at a painful level
  • 80% of these patients will have tried some sort of home remedy to help get rid of their plantar fasciitis, like rolling their foot on a cold or round object as suggested by friends or the internet (the other 20% were just hoping it’d go away on its own)
  • 50% will report that the rolling made no difference, and 50% will report that the rolling helped somewhat with pain temporarily, but with no long-standing effects, hence they are here to see us

Which is a nice segway into our next point:

Rolling your foot will NOT cure your heel spur or plantar fasciitis

You’re experiencing that dreadful first-step pain because you’ve sustained an injury to your heel. Tissue fibres have been damaged, your body has recognised it, hence the inflammation and pain. You’re pairing this with the reality that you can’t just stop walking to totally offload the foot and let it heal, meaning that you’re also regularly straining and using that damaged tissue too. What you need is support, off-loading and a chance for your body to heal and repair the plantar fascia before you keep straining it and potentially cause further damage, like a tear.

Rolling your foot CAN temporarily help your pain.

What your ice bottle rolling can do is to help to temporarily manage your painful symptoms – just like icing your knee or hand after an injury. Applying ice to an inflamed area will help reduce inflammation. The less inflammation, the less pain and discomfort. So you can temporarily feel a little relief – until you don’t – because your tissue is still damaged, it’s not repaired, and you haven’t addressed the cause of the pain. This can leave you struggling with on/off heel pain for years to come. Rolling your foot also does help stretch the plantar fascia, which is definitely good in the long-term, but it shouldn’t be your priority as soon as your pain begins, and again, it’s not enough to fix your heel spur pain for good.

Note: While we’re on it, when doing any stretch, please be mindful that the stretch isn’t causing you pain. If your stretch is causing pain, it’s too early and the tissue is too vulnerable. Stretching should feel tight – that’s fine – but it should not be painful. If it is, please stop (because that’s what your body is telling you to do!).

Your injury may even get worse

Don’t worry – we’re not saying that rolling your foot will directly make your pain or symptoms worse. What we are saying is that if you don’t seek any other help and management for the pain and instead hope that rolling that ball will do the trick, you are prolonging seeking professional help. In that time, while the plantar fascia is still damaged, vulnerable and flaring up, you do have the risk of furthering your injury as you continue to walk on it without the right support and treatment modalities in place.

You also haven’t found and addressed the causes of your plantar fasciitis either. You could have started stretching and rehabilitating your tight calf muscles, for example. When you don’t treat the cause, the risk of the injury happening again in the future is significant.

It’s frustrating for patients

Perhaps the worst part, and what has prompted us to write about it, is that heel spurs and plantar fasciitis is very frustrating and painful for patients. They’re limited in what activities and exercises that they can complete. They’ve got an event or an overseas trip coming up that they want to feel their best for. Unfortunately, they’ve left it for so long before coming in that the recovery may make meeting their ‘recovery deadlines’ difficult. They could have recovered in time (and even had less to recover from) if they ditched the home remedies they were trying without understanding the bigger picture. It’s frustrating, it’s painful, and trust us – we want your pain gone and your injury healed as much as you do.

Everything we do is to optimise our patients’ health, so we have practical, evidence-based treatments for plantar fasciitis and heel spurs including shockwave treatment and orthotic therapy. We absolutely incorporate stretching, strengthening, strapping and other modalities in a timely manner and when it’s going to be beneficial for you. We’ll show you the right stretches at the right time so that it helps (and not hinders) your progress. So please do your current and future self a big favour and seek professional help from your Podiatrist for your heel pain.

To book in with our heel pain experts at The Podiatrist, you can book online here, or give us a call on 07 4638 3022.

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