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Published on: 19-Jul-2023

Heel pain is a common complaint among athletes who often suffer from overuse conditions. Nothing can derail a fitness routine faster than recurring heal pain, so it’s important to take care of your feet and understand some of the common conditions that cause heel pain. Here are a few:

Achilles tendinosis

This occurs when the Achilles tendon is placed under pressure and small tears develop along with inflammation. Severe cases may lead to tendon rupture. The tears become a source of further injury, which can lead to swelling within the tendon.

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a musculoskeletal disorder primarily affecting the fascial enthesis which connects the heel bone to the base of the toes. The condition is commonly associated with individuals who have flat feet and other lower limb biomechanical anomalies, with the presumption being that tensile strain on the fascia causes microtears and changes to the tissue structure. If you want to learn more about plantar fasciitis, check out the “ultimate guide to plantar fasciitis” for comprehensive information and helpful insights.

Heel bursitis

This occurs when there is an inflammation of a bursa (a fluid-filled sac) under the heel bone. Unlike plantar fasciitis, the pain is typically more in the center of the heel and often, it gets worse during the day. This condition can be caused following direct trauma to the area or as a result of repetitive stress, such as running. 

Tarsal tunnel syndrome

This feels like a burning or tingling sensation under the heel and arch of the foot. Sufferers may also experience a loss of sensation on the bottom of the foot. This is caused by compression of the tibial nerve as it passes the inside of the ankle. Tapping of the nerve just behind the ankle bone (known as Tinel’s test) can reproduce the symptoms. 

Heel bumps

If you are seeing firm bumps on the back of your heel, this can be the result of excessive shoe rubbing, or the thickening of the tissues associated with a tight Achilles tendon attaching to the heel bone. 

Chronic inflammation of the heel pad

If you are experiencing deep, bruise-like pain, usually in the middle of the heel, you may have this syndrome. Walking barefoot or on hard surfaces can worsen the pain. The syndrome is typically caused by inflammation or damage to the heel pad. It may also be the result of increased body weight or loss of heel padding or elasticity due to aging.  

Calcaneal stress fracture

This type of fracture is usually caused by repetitive overload to the heel, often from excessive exercise or sport. Patients often report onset of pain after an increase in weight-bearing activity or change to a harder walking surface. The pain initially occurs only with activity, but often progresses to include pain when resting.


If you are experiencing foot pain, it’s important to consult with a physician. Here are a few additional precautions you can take:  

  • Stretch your feel and calves prior to working out
  • Wear well-fitting shoes with cushioning and arch support 
  • Wear shoes with good heel cushioning and effective arch support 
  • Tape your arches or consider orthotics
  • Ice the area of pain following exercise
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medication to relieve pain
  • When you’re not working out, wear shoes with a small heel
  • Consider a weight loss plan to take stress off your feet
  • In severe cases, rest your feet or switch to a non-weight-bearing exercise such as cycling