Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Lazy Man's Guide to treating your Heel Pain!

My name is Dr. Michele McGowan, and much like the President for the Hair Club for Men, who is not only the president but a member of the organization himself because he has no hair, that is how I feel about heel pain or plantar fasciitis. I am a foot doctor who treats heel pain multiple times daily and has struggled with heel pain a couple different times in my life.  I help people get better all the time for this yet my inability to take my own advice was my downfall.

I can say that over the last 15 years of private practice in podiatry in Clermont Florida, the frequent flyers we see with heel pain that suffer longer or take longer to get better take all shapes and sizes. But they have one thread in common, which is they are usually too lazy to keep up with a stretching program to get better or stop stretching the moment the foot feels better. When I suffered with heel pain the first time I was a bad patient! I tell my patients all day long that they need to stretch but I suffered with heel pain for longer than I needed to due to my lazy streak and not wanting to stretch. 

Of course, once I started stretching and icing for my heel pain I started to get better and once I felt 100% better I stopped stretching! In order to ward off the return of this horrible pain you have to keep stretching.  This I find super annoying to say over and over again to the same patient year after year, whether the patient is a frequent flyer or myself.  Recently my paradigm has shifted in how I teach the lazy like myself to get better and stay better.

In 2015, when I had plantar fasciitis where it hurt so bad to walk, I decided to purchase a night splint.  This is a pretty simple device that you wear when you sleep that holds your foot in a complete stretch while you are sleeping, genius right? Well turns out this device is not super comfortable to sleep with it on.  This device spent more time with my toy fox terrier dog cuddled inside of it at bedtime then on my leg for the first few weeks.  But then my heel pain got so unbearable that I had to do something, because even the dedicated times during the day that I was stretching was yielding absolutely no result.  

I decided that I could no longer live like this and out of desperation I started to wear my night splint any time I could.  As I do not have a sit down job in one place going from room to room to see patients, my husband thought it was unrealistic to even bring the splint to work but I did.  But he was totally right, I couldn't wear it while seeing patients, but I put on around 11:45am until 1pm during my lunch break.  I would then lug that boot home( I was too cheap to buy 2 boots to keep one at work and one at home) and after soccer, track and music lessons for my girls I would put the boot on again when I was reading, watching TV or finishing up paper work from the office. 

At night I had a very particular regimen,  at about 8 pm I would prop up my leg on a couple of pillows and add a gel ice pack into the foot part of my night splint, place the night splint on and watch TV or finish up my work.  I did this for 2 months and my heel pain went completely away.  Until it came back a year later because I stopped stretching! 

So now I wear my night splint when I am sitting down in my house relaxing watching a movie or playing on my computer.  I currently have no heel pain but I feel like even the couple times a week I wear the splint it prevents me from having to have that sharp pain in the morning feeling and keeps my foot healthy! 

This is basically a little life hack for the lazy who have heel pain.  If you have any other foot problems feel free to learn more at our office website at

Michele McGowan DPM
3190 Citrus Tower Blvd Ste A
Clermont, FL 34711