Muscle tightness and Equinus: A Source of Heel Pain

As a runner, warming up and stretching are probably common parts of your running routine. The benefits of stretching, including increased blood flow, better joint function, and decreased injury, are numerous. Muscles will tighten with use and age. Without regular exercise and stretching, these tight muscles often lead to pain or injury. An Achilles tendon rupture is often the result big expectations placed on unconditioned ankle tendons. While many regular runners won’t experience this, heel pain can be a prime example of pain that occurs with muscle tightness in your calf muscles.  

Equinus is a term used in podiatry to explain tightness in these muscles that affect foot function. Similar to a horses’ hoof being pointed towards the ground, the most severe cases of equinus exhibit toes pointed towards the ground. Most individuals in modern society have decreased motion at the ankle joint or mild equinus. This can be a contributing factor to conditions such as plantar fasciitis. The tendons of the plantar fascia insert onto the same heel bone as does the Achilles tendon. Tights in the calf or Achilles tendon can contribute to tightness in the plantar fascia, one of many sources for heel pain.

Even if you are not a daily runner, you should become a daily stretcher. There are many stretches for runners that are excellent for stretching out the calf muscles. If you are a regular runner and stretcher, your heel pain is most likely from a different source than muscle tightness and should be evaluated by a podiatric physician. The Heel Pain Center of Central Texas website has a lot of good information on this topic. As a division of Austin foot and Ankle Specialists, they are well equipped to diagnose the source of your heel pain. They can also offer you a variety of treatment options including the newest addition of ESWT. Heel pain can start for a variety of reasons and severely limit your activities. If your running routine or daily activities are being limited by heel pain, make an appointment to see Dr. Thomajon. A call to 512-328-8900 can have you well on your way to eliminating or correcting your source of heel pain.

Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
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Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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