Mystery sore heel that Dr Google can't diagnose!

11 messages
30/05/2014 at 23:23

So quick back story. I'm a new runner. I've been very sensibly upping my weekly mileage, not going too quickly blah blah.

Anywho, about 2 months ago my heel starts hurting. It is not my achilles and it is not plantar fasciities. It is literally the back of my heel, you know where you would get a blister on your heel? That area. It doesn't hurt while running, it doesn't hurt while sitting not doing anything, it hurts in the morning when I walk, I'm stiff and hobble a bit and it hurts if I start to walk after sitting for a while, particularly walking down stairs (up is fine). It's like it's stiff. No swelling or bruising in that area.

I realised my running shoes were probably a bit small, so have been properly fitted by a good running shop . I've taken 2 weeks off but it's not improved. I can't find any way to stretch the area apart from flex and straightening my toes. But in short I have no idea what is causing the problem, Dr Google has not provided any insight.

Can anyone help at all?  

31/05/2014 at 00:06

I've had this problem and my physio told me in was the beginning of Achilles problems / tendinitis.. 

The heel "plate" felt sore squidgy and painful when I pressed it. My achilles initially didnt hurt but over time it did 

I'd have an easy few weeks, perhaps even stop (I've done practically nothing for 3 weeks) - Go see a physio perhaps 

I do single leg squats and heel drops daily - I'd advise this as it has helped me but physio is a must

It's was nearly 2 months and I woke up every day with that sore tender heel feeling. 

The time off helped and once I had a 3-4 days waking up with no pain etc I tried a run. I managed to get to the point now where I ran and had no ill feeling next day.. However I'll be building back slow

Oh. Self massage + soaking feet / hot / cold treatment seemed to help a little bit too as well as sleeping with feet on a pillow 



31/05/2014 at 06:26

I had the beginnings of something similar last year. I didn't ever stop running as the pain was only there when I first got up and the first couple of trips down the stairs. I think mine was the start of achilles tendonitis (as my OH had this). Mine seemed to respond well to a combination of heel lift/drop exercises on the stairs and regular icing of the inflammed area.

31/05/2014 at 09:01

Thank you both, sounds very similar. I haven't iced at all, it doesn't feel inflamed at all. It is tender when you push it. 
I was going to start running again this week. Perhaps, if I do some heel lifts/drops and squats every day, ice the heel in the evening and just do some light running for a couple of weeks, I'll see if that improves.

Perhaps worth seeing a physio if no improvement?

31/05/2014 at 09:07
Sounds like a good plan. However every time I had a deep massage I felt much better progressively.

I think with all the muscles relaxed and straightened out helps too... As you probably know they all work in conjunction and my calves were horribly tight (stretch these out too)
31/05/2014 at 13:45
I think I had something similar. Started hurting in December only recently has it stopped. For me the problem was tightness in calves and into my foot, when u did calf stretches I felt it pulling in the sore spot at back of heel. I did a lot of calf stretching, ankle mobilization (ankle rotation, pointing toes then pulling back towards the ankle, tilting foot from side to side) and rolled the underside of my foot/arch using a spiky massage ball.

I dunno if this will help. Exercises I did are things recommended for plantir fasciitis.
31/05/2014 at 15:24

Kate - I think the icing worked for me as I did it 2-3 times a day for a couple of weeks. I'd try and do the heel lift/drops a couple of time a day too (OH always does them whilst brushing teeth!)

31/05/2014 at 20:48

Thank all.  

I have 2 young kids and life is busy, so sitting down to ice 2-3 times a day is probably not realistic for me unfortunately.

I will definitely try to fit in calf/ ankle stretches, along with the heel lifts/drops and squats, in the morning and evening and I'll ice up in the evening (which is what I'm currently sat doing…!)

Thanks for the input. Good to know others have experienced this and it'll improve! 

Do you think light running (easy run under 5 miles) and cross training (I do kettlebells on a Monday!) should be ok?

01/06/2014 at 20:03

My phsyio said all non impact stuff should be fine.. Swim, cycle..

However I have stopped doing excessive gym routine and just stick to squats ...


If you have to keep straining the calf/achilles and landing on the heel it may not help.. I guess you could try it, and if you feel worse or pain just stop and wait


02/06/2014 at 12:58

Sounds like a problem I get now and then which I thought was achilles tendonitis or the start of it but the pain seemed to be more on the back of the heel rather than the actual achilles.  I think it sounds like achilles bursitis... google that and have a read, see what you think. 

Stretching my calves seems to have helped me a bit (both parts of the calf muscle).

*Please note that I have no medical qualifications, just years of struggling with various running injuries / niggles!


02/06/2014 at 21:48
If you wear jeans or trousers does it hurt a bit when the bottom edge strokes against the back of your heal? Have you got a hard/boney lump next to your achillies and lower heal?

A few months ago I did some squats with heavy weights, then a HIIT session on a treadmill early in the morning. No probs. Then a few hours later had to drive 200 miles and got stuck in the usual M5/M6 traffic jams. I felt like I was getting a blister on my heel. It was getting quite uncomfortable by the end of the drive. No blister but red hard lump. That night my foot started to get stiff. I woke in the night with pain from bed sheets rubbing against my heel. In the morning and for the next five days, I couldn't walk. I couldn't let anything brush against my heel, bottom edge of foot otherwise I'd hit the roof - very painful. To cut a long story short, my GP reckoned it was bursitis and then he suggested a podiatrist who said haglunds deformities (bony lump) has cause irritation of tissues around the heel and bursitis. These days I have the same symptoms as you. So may be you have the same as me to a lessor degree, or the start of it.

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