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Family Foot & Ankle

4 No-Nonsense Tips for Holiday Heel Pain Survival

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The holiday season provides plenty of reasons to be rushing around, no matter what the current world situation may be. If there’s anything we’ve learned about people, it’s that so many of us will adjust to circumstances however we can in order to keep beloved traditions alive.

Heel pain can be one of those circumstances for many folks as well. Unfortunately, too many of us don’t really take steps to “adjust” to it as much as we try to outright ignore it. But heel pain doesn’t go away if you try not to think about it, and its consistent presence can really drag down your energy and enjoyment of any season.

The best way to help yourself against holiday heel pain is by seeing us! We can get to the root of your discomfort and start addressing it directly.

But if you can’t make it in just yet, there are other steps you can take right now that may help you reduce your heel pain. They might not all be effective based on your particular heel pain situation, but that can also be a blessing in disguise. Knowing what has helped you and what hasn’t can be very useful information for us during an examination.

holiday heel pain

Choose Good Support

We know you might have that one pair of dress shoes you break out specifically for holiday use. But if those shoes are straining your feet, they’re better left in the closet.

A good pair of shoes will provide full support across the whole of your arch (and not simply cushioning, although cushioning is also good). It will also have a firm heel counter and not possess a high heel that forces your weight toward the front of your foot, adding stress to your plantar fascia and other connected elements.

Yes, high heels tend to get the brunt of criticism here, but other types of shoes can be harmful as well. If you’ve had the same holiday shoes for years and they’re worn out, replace them. They are not doing you any favors.

And if you absolutely must wear an unsupportive pair of shoes, do not spend all day in them and don’t spend all of that time standing, if you can help it. 

Work Stretching into Your Day

If you’ve had a busy day on your feet setting up decorations, working in the kitchen, delivering items to friends and family, or standing in those must-show shoes, taking some time to relax and stretch your feet can be very helpful.

There are a number of stretches you can do. One of our favorites simply involves rolling the underside of each foot firmly against a foam roller, bottle, golf ball, or whatever other safe, rollable object you have around. Freeze a water bottle to provide some cold therapy along with your rolling as well!

Find stretches you enjoy that work your feet, heels, and calves. Doing them first thing in the morning can be helpful for patients living with plantar fasciitis, and performing them after a long day can give fatigued tissues a nice break. Stretching during the day can be helpful as well--but even if you can’t, try to at least take a few minutes after each hour of activity to flex and move a bit.

Equip Yourself for Your Around-the-House Activities

Having the right mindset and footwear for what you plan to do during the holidays can be key – and that can manifest in ways you might not initially expect.

So of course you should wear sturdy, cushioned, supportive shoes if you are going to be climbing up and down the ladder to hang Christmas lights. That’s a no-brainer. 

But what if you are spending the day preparing meals in the kitchen, or wrapping gifts at your table?

If you are spending extended periods of time standing in a non-party situation, most people will choose to do so barefoot. But if heel pain is a factor for you, you may want to try wearing supportive shoes during those times instead.

Yes, we want you to try wearing your shoes indoors! We mentioned this as part of our blog on why pain might be increasing as more people stay at home, and it remains valid. 

If you just don’t want to wear shoes indoors, though, there’s another way you can provide yourself more support. Put an anti-fatigue mat down in any place you expect to be standing for a while, especially if you will be standing on thin carpeting or hardwood floors. (This is a good idea even if you also wear shoes, too.)

holiday heel pain

Don’t Run Up Your Calorie Intake

We know it can be very easy to overindulge during the season. There’s not only the potential for so many sweets and enormous meals throughout the holidays, but we often have a tendency to move less and eat more throughout the winter as well.

But the more weight we carry, the more stress we place on our feet as we stand or walk. That stress accumulates day to day as well, so even a swing of a few pounds may make a significant difference for some people’s heel pain.

We’re not saying to stick just to the vegetable platter at whatever dinner you may go to. Enjoy yourself with what you like to eat, but stick to a plan of moderation.

Get Yourself Some Freedom from Heel Pain

If you are regularly suffering from heel pain, one of the best gifts you can give yourself is freedom from persistent, energy- and mood-sapping discomfort. We are here to help patients of all ages and walks of life find the best course of treatment for their foot and ankle needs.

Schedule an appointment by calling us at (513) 728-4800 or by filling out our online contact form. We wish you and your family the best of holidays and a safe, comfortable season.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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