As the weather is getting nicer most of us would be considering getting our hands dirty in our gardens.
Gardening can be a rewarding and enjoyable activity, but it can also take a toll on your body. One common issue that gardeners often experience is heel pain, also known as “gardener’s heel”.
This condition can cause discomfort and make it difficult to stand or walk for extended periods, which can significantly impact your ability to enjoy your garden. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, symptoms, as well as some tips on how to prevent this condition from occurring in the first place
Gardener’s heel is a condition where the tissue on the bottom of the heel becomes thickened and inflamed, typically due to repetitive or prolonged pressure on the heel. It is also known as plantar fasciitis or heel spur syndrome.
Gardeners are at a higher risk for this condition because of prolonged standing and walking on hard surfaces. One of the most common methods of injury that I see in my practice is when people push the shovel into the dirt as shown in the picture in this article.
The repetitive pressure on the plantar fascia and the foot muscles from the pressing action can cause micro-tears in the plantar fascia, the tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, leading to inflammation and pain in the heel.
Here are some tips that can help prevent gardener’s heel:
- Wear proper footwear: Wear shoes that fit well and provide proper arch support. Look for shoes with cushioning in the heel and forefoot, and avoid shoes with flat soles.
- Use supportive insoles: Consider using orthotic inserts or shoe inserts that provide additional arch support and cushioning.
- Stretch before and after gardening: Stretching your calf muscles and plantar fascia before and after gardening can help prevent injury and reduce the risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
- Gradually increase activity: If you are new to gardening or have been inactive for a while, start slowly and gradually increase your activity level. This will allow your body to adjust and prevent overuse injuries.
- Take breaks: Take regular breaks during gardening to rest and stretch your feet and legs. This can help reduce the risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise, including stretching and strengthening exercises, can help keep your feet and legs healthy and reduce the risk of plantar fasciitis.
- Be mindful of your gardening techniques: Use proper body mechanics when bending, kneeling, or lifting, and avoid repetitive motions that can strain your feet.
By incorporating these tips into your lifestyle, you can help prevent heel/foot pain and enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. However, if you experience persistent heel/foot pain or discomfort, it is essential to seek medical attention from a qualified healthcare provider.
Physiotherapy can be an effective non-surgical and non-pharmacological treatment option for knee pain, as it can help to reduce pain and improve activity and function.
Some of the physiotherapy interventions that may be used in the treatment of heel/foot pain include:
Shockwave therapy: Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that has been used for plantar fasciitis. It involves the use of high-energy acoustic waves to stimulate healing and reduce pain in the affected area. The shockwaves can help to break down scar tissue, increase blood flow to the affected area, and stimulate the production of new cells and tissues. This can help to reduce pain and inflammation, improve mobility, and promote healing.
Shockwave therapy is often used in combination with other treatments, such as stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, and manual therapy. Your physiotherapist can create a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs and goals.
Manual therapy: Manual therapy techniques such as massage, myofascial release, and joint mobilization can help to reduce pain and improve mobility in the foot and ankle.
Ultrasound therapy: Ultrasound therapy uses sound waves to promote healing and reduce inflammation in the affected area.
Taping and bracing: Taping and bracing techniques can help to support the foot and reduce stress on the plantar fascia.
Stretching exercises: Stretching exercises can help to improve the flexibility of the plantar fascia and other muscles in the foot and ankle. Your physiotherapist can show you specific exercises to do at home, as well as stretches to do before and after physical activity.
Strengthening exercises: Strengthening exercises can help to improve the strength of the muscles in the foot and ankle, which can help to support the plantar fascia. Your physiotherapist can show you exercises to do at home or may use resistance bands or other equipment in the clinic.
Orthotics: Orthotics are custom-made shoe inserts and that can be an effective treatment option for plantar fasciitis. Orthotics work by providing support and cushioning to the foot, which can help to reduce stress on the plantar fascia and improve overall foot function.
Your physiotherapist will create a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs and goals. They may also provide advice on footwear, activity modification, and other lifestyle factors that can help to manage your symptoms and prevent further injury.