Heel Pain In Gym Novices: Do You Have Heel Bursitis?

Starting a new workout routine at your gym can be a great way to shed some pounds and improve your overall health, but it can also carry an element of risk. If this is the first time you have signed up with a gym, and your body isn't used to regular physical exercise, some parts of your body may be vulnerable to damage caused by overexercising. 

Heel bursitis is a painful and debilitating condition, and frequently affects people who have recently started working out seriously for the first time. Fortunately, professional treatment can alleviate its symptoms and repair the damage, helping you get back on the treadmill as soon as possible.

What Is Heel Bursitis?

Most of the joints in your body contain at least one bursa. A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac, which acts as a cushion to protect the joint from injury. Each of your heels contains a bursa, located at the back of the bottom of each ankle.  

While bursae are designed to prevent damage, they can become damaged themselves if they are placed under too much strain. If a bursa suffers too much damage, it can become inflamed and swollen. This inflammation is called bursitis.

Bursitis that affects your heel bursae can cause a considerable amount of pain in the backs of your heels. This pain often becomes worse when you are walking, running, jumping, or standing on your tiptoes. The ankle above the affected heel(s) can also become stiff and swollen, and you may find it more difficult to stand or place weight on the affected foot or feet.

Why Are Gym Novices Vulnerable To Heel Bursitis?

If you are starting a new, intense exercise regimen, your ankle joints may not be strong and tough enough to withstand the sudden increase in activity. The muscles, tendons and ligaments in your ankles will become more used to exercise over time, but until they do, the bursae in your heels will be placed under a lot of strain. The friction and impacts created by intense exercise can badly damage the heel bursae and cause bursitis.

Wearing improper footwear to exercise can also increase your risk of developing bursitis. You should wear footwear with good ankle support (especially if your exercises include weight training), but many gym newcomers start out with unsuitable footwear.

How Is Heel Bursitis Treated?

If you have recently started visiting the gym regularly, and you are suffering from pain and/or swelling in your heels and ankles, you should visit an orthopedist or heel pain doctor as soon as possible. These medical professionals will examine your heels, and determine whether you are suffering from heel bursitis. They will also check for other injuries that can cause heel pain, such as plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis. 

If you are diagnosed with heel bursitis, a range of treatments can help to eliminate pain and swelling. In most cases, simply resting the affected foot or feet will allow the affected tissues to heal naturally. Your doctor may recommend applying ice packs or compression bandages to minimize pain and swelling. Keeping the affected foot or feet elevated can also help quicken the healing process. 

If your heel pain is severe, you may be prescribed painkilling medications. Steroid injections into the affected heel(s) can provide long-term pain relief, and will also reduce inflammation. 

You should also consider investing in footwear with better ankle support. Your doctor can provide recommendations, and also supply you with heel cushioning pads to protect your heels.

You may also be provided with orthotic inserts. These individually crafted inserts should be worn in all of your footwear, and will help to correct any existing foot problems or gait abnormalities that may be worsening your bursitis. To learn more about heel pain and its treatments, contact a professional near you.