Dealing with Winter Heel Pain

Winter might not seem like the “busy season” when it comes to heel pain. After all, the weather outside is frightful—or at least a little chillier, grayer, and with occasional bouts of snow, ice, and slush that can deter even the most intrepid outdoor enthusiast.

That said, you might be surprised to hear that we still do see a lot of patients in our office complaining about their heels, even at this time of year.

As it turns out, while it’s true that people tend to be a little less active at this time, your heels may still not be safe. In fact, winter can even pose its own unique challenges!

Now, if you’re the kind of person who seems to get winter heel pain, you might of course be wondering why this is the case. And unfortunately, we won’t be able to give you a definitive answer until you come see us. But we can say that there are a few common culprits.

So Why Do My Heels Hurt in Winter?

The most likely explanation is footwear.

During the winter months, those comfy sandals and light walking shoes may get replaced by tougher shoes and heavier-duty weatherproof boots.

There’s nothing wrong, of course, with wearing seasonally appropriate footwear. But just like any pair of shoes, they need to fit comfortably and offer the heel cushioning and arch support you need to keep the pressure away from your heels!

Unfortunately, many people may not put as high a priority on comfort when it comes to winter gear. Others may still be wearing 5-year-old boots (or older) that have worn out midsoles, or just plain don’t fit anymore. And if you spend all day walking around in such items, chances are high your heels will hurt!

If you want to minimize your risk, follow these tips:

  • Make sure all pairs of shoes or boots you wear in winter are comfortable and fit your feet well. (When testing the fit, always wear socks of the same type and thickness that you would typically wear with the shoes you are testing.)
  • Don’t wear heavy boots indoors. Switch to a comfy pair of walking shoes.
  • If you find that heel pain persists, stop by our office for a closer look. You may require a set of arch supports, or need your current ones adjusted or replaced. (We provide both prefabricated orthotics—which we can heat mold in our office to improve fit and performance—as well as custom orthotics.)
winter heel pain

Other Possible Causes

Here are a few other factors that could be contributing to your wintertime heel pain blues:

  • Winter sports. Not everyone hides under the blankets all season long! Whether you play a winter-specific sport, love your winter runs, or take the play indoors, physical activity obviously comes with a risk of heel pain. (Here, again, shoes are usually a big part of both the cause and the solution.
  • Chilly temps. The cold weather itself could be aggravating an existing case of arthritis or inflammatory condition.
  • Lack of conditioning. If you tend to be fairly active in the summer but mostly sedentary in the winter, you may find that your feet, ankles, and calves aren’t quite as able to handle the daily stresses as well as they used to—especially if you do a lot of standing at your job.
  • The aftermath of the holiday rush. We’re definitely used to seeing patients come to us in January and early February after a busy holiday season.
  • Dry skin. Low humidity, indoor heat, and even too-hot showers can contribute to dry skin. Sometimes skin gets so dry around your heels that it starts to split and crack, which can be quite uncomfortable.

Don’t Let Winter Heel Pain Slow You Down!

Here’s the thing.

Heel pain can be a major nuisance that gets in the way of living your best life regardless of when it occurs. But if you’re already frustrated by winter heel pain, just imagine how unhappy you’ll be by spring and summer if it hasn’t gone away by then—or even gotten worse!

If your discomfort is getting in the way of life and isn’t getting better after a few days of rest at home, give us a call. We provide thorough diagnostic testing, compassionate care, and comprehensive treatment options (including some state-of-the-art procedures for those who need them.)

Heel pain is always worth treating, and the good news is that relatively straightforward, conservative therapies can resolve the issue 95 percent of the time (or more).

In the meantime:

  • Avoid activities that are causing you pain as much as possible.
  • Wear comfortable, supportive shoes that are always appropriate for your activities and environment.
  • Keep exercising your feet, ankles, and calves throughout the year so they stay strong and resistant to injury.
  • Keep feet properly moisturized by avoiding long, hot showers and applying a moisturizing lotion or cream afterward.

We’d love to help you make your winter heel pain a thing of the past, so please give our office in Lee’s Summit a call today! You can reach us at (816) 246-4222, or you can request an appointment online and one of our staff members will reach out to you shortly.

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