Why do I have this pain in my heel?
November 10, 2010 3:11 PM   Subscribe

YANMD filter: Why does my heel burn/pull when I stretch it?

This August I started running again. I noticed that I had a sore back and oddly this problem that has persisted. Whenever I straighten out my leg and pull up my toes I get a pulling/burning/stretching pain on my heel. I also feel it when I stretch my calf this way

I went to a masseuse who said that my glutes were extremely tight and I really needed to start stretching them daily and get more massages.

I've since been stretching both my glutes (this way) and my calfs twice a day, but if anything it seems to feel worse.

Does anyone have an idea what is causing this? Are there additional stretches I need to be doing?
posted by kookywon to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
So, I'm going to assume that you are a) getting enough water and b) haven't had injuries there in the past, otherwise a) hydrate and b) get bodywork/Physical therapy for scar tissue.

If not, then you will want to look up stuff for your soleus and/or peroneus longus. Soleus if the pull goes directly to the back of your heel bone, peroneus if it curves to the outside of your ankle.

A useful trick is to try the opposite motion against resistance - for example, laying down face up, with your feet against the wall, and push the balls of your feet against it for 5 seconds or so before getting up and doing the stretches - engaging the opposite muscles turns off the tight muscles.

There is also the fact that, while stretching in a general sense is good, not everything needs to be stretched to the maximum - over stretching will naturally give you a burning sensation and pain as you are basically forcing the muscle (and tendon) tissue beyond where it's ready to go. Assuming you're talking about
posted by yeloson at 3:29 PM on November 10, 2010

(ack, cut off) assuming you're talking about a loss in normal range of motion and not trying to extend it beyond what you normally do, I'd look into bodywork/PT, and while it's true your glutes might be tight, they wouldn't be the cause of the pull in the heel. Beyond stretching, you're looking at adhesions which take work like myofascial release or stretching of scar tissue.

But, if you've got normal ROM and no pain when you're running? Call it good.
posted by yeloson at 3:31 PM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

When my heel started burning and pulling, it was the beginning of plantar fasciitis. Not bad at all, but it got worse until it was severe and I had trouble walking. I had to stretch all: glutes, hamstrings, calves, and feet. There are excellent physical-therapy videos on YouTube -- look for plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinitis, and just 'heel pain.' Just try some exercises; if they work, you'll feel a difference right away, but you need to do them at least a few times a day for best results.

Also, there are some taping methods that might help you. You'll find those on YouTube, too.

If you start to have actual pain, make a huge effort not to change your gait. Doing that will quickly lead to a secondary injury, for example in your hip or in another part of your foot.
posted by wryly at 3:53 PM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'm with wryly on this: achilles tendonitis. Stretch your calves, do alternating ice and heat. If it doesn't start going away consider going to a sports medicine/orthopedic doctor, skip the GP if you can.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:09 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

For me, it was achilles tendonitis. Stretching calves was the long term solution although heel lifts, orthotics, and shoes with good ankle support all helped me avoid irritating it long enough for the tendon to heal; trying to stretch while my ankle was irritated always seemed to make it worse. It was really important for me to stretch two different ways - straight-leg lunges and bent leg lunges or the equivalents thereof; straight legged works the main muscle which is called the gastrocnemius, bent legged works the soleus which is the smaller muscle on the lower half of your calf.
posted by Lady Li at 9:42 PM on November 10, 2010

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