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Ask Your Physical Therapist: Heel pain prevents walking for exercise
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Ask Your Physical Therapist: Heel pain prevents walking for exercise

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We walk from here to there and everywhere we need, we walk for exercise, walk the golf course or just walk in our yard without giving it a second thought.

That is, until your heel starts to hurt, causing you to limp with every step you take.

You try to ignore it and power through the pain as it comes and goes, getting a little worse as the weeks go by, until you start to develop additional pain in your knee, hip or low back from inadvertently changing how you walk.

This can be a real issue for many people as they try to stay active or walk for exercise to manage their weight or keep their cholesterol, blood pressure or diabetes under control. As the heel pain lingers, you begin to walk less and become less active to avoid the pain, and your health and happiness suffer for it.

If this sounds familiar to you, there is something you can do about it. You certainly do not have to just live with it, take a bunch of pills, get shots or surgery.

Most heel pain is a result of tight calf muscles, flat feet, high arches or doing too much too soon (like when you start a new walking program and begin with walking 5 miles every day, when you had been doing none). All of the above can cause irritation of the tissue that travels from the heel to the balls of the feet called your plantar fascia. In addition, the fat pad or bursa in your heel that acts to cushion the heel in weight bearing can also become irritated, causing pain in the center of the heel.

The key to correcting this problem and getting back to walking for exercise and focusing on your health is to correct the reason why the heel pain is occurring. Stretching the calf muscles, wearing the proper shoes for your foot type, being fit with custom foot orthotics, as well as strengthening the muscles that support your foot and ankle are all things that can resolve your heel pain.

How do you know which of these will help you get back to walking? Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy specializes in figuring out the cause of heel pain and getting people back to walking, exercising and living life without heel pain and limping.

To find out how, try one of the following:

  • Call us at 717-245-0400 and we’ll send you our free report, “5 Quick Ways To End Your Heel Pain.”
  • Call us to schedule a one-on-one, free screen with one of our expert physical therapists so that we can listen to you and tell you how we can get you back to walking and doing the things you want.

Steve Miller has more than 20 years of experience providing physical therapy and pedorthic services and is the co-owner of Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy. His column appears bi-weekly in the Thrive section of the Sentinel and online at


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