Running is a great hobby but it can come with its share of aches and pains. As many runners will tell you, they enjoy the fresh air and being able to let go of the stresses of the day as their feet race forward. There’s also the mental “high” that many runners feel after their workout, which is exhilarating. Among the most common complaints is back of heel pain after running. There are several different conditions that could be causing it, so let’s look at the most common ones.
Achilles tendonitis is a condition where the eponymous tendon becomes inflamed or irritated. The Achilles tendon is what connects the calf muscles and the heel bone (aka the calcaneus). It can become injured if:
- Your calf muscles are too short, or
- You’re trying to amp up your speed/mileage too fast, too soon
While Achilles tendonitis is treatable with rest and medication, it would be best to be cautious when running. Remember that blood flow in the heel area is slow, which is why running injuries can take a long time to heal.
Plantar fasciitis and back of heel pain after a run
Another common cause for back of heel pain running-related is plantar fasciitis. This condition results from putting too much strain on the plantar fascia, which connects the heel and the toes.
Like Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis appears when you overtrain or try to run too much too soon. It can also stem from failing to stretch properly before a run.
Improper running shoes can contribute to this condition too.
Plantar fasciitis is recognizable by its sudden sharp pain in the heel, but also by a sore back of the heel after running. Like before, it’s a fairly serious condition, since the foot area takes a very long time to heal.
Yet another explanation for heel pain is an inflammation or swelling of the retrocalcaneal bursa. If you’ve never heard of the retrocalcaneal bursa, it is a small “cushion” sack that connects the Achilles tendons to the heel bone.
This condition is also characterized by swelling in the area and is caused by excessive running (or walking). It can occur after running uphill, for example, which puts more strain than normal on the foot.
What you can do about the back of heel pain after running
I won’t try to present you with possible treatments since those are best left to a medical professional. Below are some basic tips, though, if experiencing heel pain after your workout.
Firstly, and most obviously, avoid putting pressure on that leg. Secondly, try to reduce swelling with ice, soothing creams, and medication, if applicable.
Once again, it can be really hard for a damaged heel to recover. So, consider taking some preventive measures to prevent the discomfort in the first place.
For example, always stretch before running, so as not to overwork your calf and foot muscles. Also, invest in some proper running shoes. Your feet will thank you!
Try to start easy too, especially if you haven’t run in a while or are new to running, in general. Start slowly and gradually work up a resistance.
Finally, don’t overdo it. Listen to your body. If it’s telling you to walk the rest of the way, then do so. Rest, if necessary.