One out of every 10 people has heel spurs, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Out of those who have heel spurs, only 5 percent experience heel pain. If you experience pain with heel spurs, opt for non-impact aerobic activities that enable you to avoid putting unnecessary stress on your feet.
Identification of Heel Spurs
Heel spurs develop when the tissue connecting the heel and the ball of the foot is stretched and the lining covering the heel bone is repeatedly stressed, according to the California Podiatric Medical Association. Wearing over-worn or ill-fitting shoes can cause heel spurs, as can high-impact exercise and obesity. Although heel spurs can cause pain, it may come from another condition. Heel spurs are common in people who have plantar fasciitis, which is painful and affects the membrane that runs from the heel to the toes.
Consult a Podiatrist
If you have heel spurs, consult with a podiatrist to determine the best way to incorporate exercise into your routine. You also need to make sure that heel spurs are actually the cause of your pain. Heel pain could be the result of a different condition such as arthritis, bursitis, a bone bruise, inflammation of the Achilles tendon or plantar fasciitis.
Any exercise that doesn’t stress your feet is usually the safest route when you have heel spurs. Non-impact cardiovascular exercise options include rowing, cycling and swimming, explains the American Council on Exercise. Exerting moderate effort on a rowing machine, leisurely swimming or bicycling on a flat terrain or on a stationary machine at 5 to 9 mph qualifies as moderate aerobic activity. To achieve vigorous intensity, increase cycling speed to more than 10 mph, swim laps or increase the intensity of your rowing exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Prevention and Solutions
Heel spurs and heel pain can be caused by wearing improperly fitted shoes, weight gain, a sudden increase in activity, going barefoot for extended periods, an increase in the amount of time you spend on your feet or the impact from a new exercise regime. To prevent injury or treat current heel pain, wear shoes appropriate to your activity, wear shoes with good arch support even when you're at home, avoid standing in one spot for long periods and ice your heel after activity.
Precautions and Pain
Finding a way to maintain an active lifestyle can help you manage your weight and preserve and build muscle tone. However, exercising through heel pain is not a good idea, cautions the California Podiatric Medical Association. If an activity causes pain, discontinue the activity and seek your doctor's advice.
- California Podiatric Medical Association: Heel Pain Has Many Causes
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs
- American Council on Exercise: Successful Weight Control
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: General Physical Activities Defined by Level of Insensity
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Measuring Physical Activity Intensity