Exercises for Haglund's Deformity

Haglund's deformity is a condition characterized by a bone deformity at the back of your heel and irritation of the related soft tissue. In some cases, this condition stems from abnormal tightness in your Achilles tendon, which runs from your calf muscles to your heel bone. If this is true for you, you can potentially relieve Haglund's deformity with the help of certain Achilles tendon exercises.

Doctor examining patient's foot Credit: sasesisuso/iStock/Getty Images

Understanding Haglund's Deformity

The bone enlargement associated with Haglund's deformity typically irritates a fluid-filled cushioning sac called a bursa, which sits between your heel bone and Achilles tendon. For this reason, the condition is also known as retrocalcaneal bursitis. People with Haglund's deformity also typically experience a form of Achilles tendon irritation called Achilles tendinitis. In addition to tightness in your Achilles, potential contributing factors in the disorder include habitually walking on the outside segments of your heels, having a high foot arch and wearing rigid-backed shoes that rub against the upper part of your heel.

Achilles Tendon Exercises

If you have an abnormally tight Achilles tendon, stretching exercises can play a major role in the treatment of Haglund's deformity, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. You can also use this type of exercise to relieve stress on your Achilles if your tendon is not unusually tight.

Common options for loosening your Achilles include standing calf stretches, which can focus on either your soleus or gastrocnemius muscles; towel pickups, which require you to grasp and lift a towel with your toes; towel stretches, which require you to sit on the ground a loop a towel over the bottom of your foot; and stretches for the plantar fascia on the bottom of your foot. Ask your doctor or physical therapist for detailed instructions on how to perform these exercises.

Exercises for Prevention

You can also use Achilles tendon exercises to help stop Haglund's deformity from forming in the first place. Additional steps that will help you prevent the onset of Haglund's include avoiding running uphill or on hard surfaces, wearing shoes that have arch supports or other supporting devices, wearing shoes that fit you properly and avoiding wearing pumps, high heels or other footwear with rigid backs. If you recover from the symptoms of Haglund's, Achilles tendon exercises and these additional steps can also help you prevent symptom recurrence.

Other Treatment Options

Additional potential treatments for Haglund's deformity include regular applications of ice or another cold source, nonprescription anti-inflammatory medications, temporary immobilization of your foot and ultrasound-based physical therapy. You can also switch to soft-backed or backless shoes, wear heel lifts, wear cushioning heel pads or use arch supports. If these steps don't improve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. Ask your doctor for more information on exercises and other treatments for Haglund's deformity.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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