Comberton Podiatry




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Heel pain and why COVID-19 makes it worse



Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain. Here, Hannah Roberts talks about why she thinks she’ll be seeing a lot more of it this spring.


Are you spending more time sitting down?

Despite your best efforts, you probably are. Long periods of time with your knees flexed and feet slightly pointed will allow your calves and hamstrings to shorten - this is a big contributing factor to heel pain.


Whether you’re at the desk all day or curled up on the sofa with a book or Netflix, you should take breaks to move around. Do some calf and hamstring stretches to keep these muscles flexible.


Are you more anxious?​  

My apologies. What a silly question! Aren’t we all?


We are understanding better the link between pain and mental well being, which means you might feel more pain at the moment.


Here you can download a guide to living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty and this link talks about what we can and cannot control . Finally, Anxiety UK has good resources. Thank you to Kirstin Bicknell (local psychotherapist) for recommending these links.


Foot pain


Indoor shoes … or lack thereof

Think about it - usually, when you’re out and about, you’re wearing proper shoes. My patients have heard me suggest they “dress from the ground up”. That is, you chose your footwear on your activity (and pick your outfit accordingly, rather than the other way around). But right now you’re inside all day. Maybe you’re standing in the kitchen learning to make bread with unsupportive slippers on. Perhaps you’re doing your daily PE with Joe Wicks (other online exercise is available) in bare feet.


This lack of support, and also lack of a slight heel, can make heel pain worse. Consider wearing your shoes inside. Perhaps buy a new pair just for lock down. Trainers especially need replacing regularly, so you’d need them eventually anyway. A compromise might be birkinstocks or haflinger  - both of which offer a little bit of arch support.


Now you’re doing MORE exercise! 

Now that our time outdoors is limited, some of you will feel you need to make the most of your once-a-day government permitted exercise. But maybe your body isn’t used to doing a run EVERY day just yet.


It’s great to exercise every day, but your body will complain if you do too much too soon. If you are new to running, I very much recommend doing the couch-to-5K (C25K) plan. Mix up your exercise with a bike ride, walk or an online fitness class - how about setting this up in your garden? Les Mills has free classes and currently have a free trial, and in our house we have been doing daily Joe Wicks on youtube as well as Frozen Yoga with Cosmic Kids.



Like most musculoskeletal pain, being overweight makes it worse. A combination of boredom and worry will make resisting the gin and chocolate particularly difficult, but unfortunately the research does prove that these things won’t actually make you feel better. I did test this theory out on behalf of my patients, just in case, but I’m afraid it’s true.


Here are some things to try: 

  1. Calf and hamstring stretches
  2. Consider good shoe choices and avoid very flat shoes (a slight heel is ideal)
  3. Massage your heels and arches by rolling a ball under them. You could also try this with a frozen bottle of water.


If you need more help, Penn Farm Podiatry can see you for an online video consultation to discuss your symptoms, make a diagnosis and recommend the best treatment plan for you. Treatments offered online include recommending taping, exercise prescription via PhysiApp, discussing footwear and arranging orthoses.