The fancy name for Policeman’s Heel is plantar fasciitis, which gets its name from the ligament that runs along the arch of your feet, from your heels to your toes. When the plantar fascia is subjected to a lot of wear and tear over time, it can begin to thicken, and it’s this process that leads to the pain in the bottom of the heel of the foot that’s all-too-familiar to those who suffer from Policeman’s Heel.
People who have flat feet or very high arches are more susceptible to developing Policeman’s Heel, and it’s more common amongst the older generation. That said, anyone who has an active job or takes a lot of exercise is at risk of succumbing to the condition. Wearing flimsy or unsupportive shoes can exacerbate symptoms, too.
It’s not a life-threatening problem, but Policeman’s Heel can have a profound impact on your mobility and your quality of life. It can also lead to more painful conditions, such as heel spurs, if it’s left untreated. So, if you’ve noticed recurring pain in your feet – particularly first thing in the morning, or after sitting down for a long period of time – it’s important to act now if you want to stop your symptoms from worsening.
What can be done to combat Policeman’s Heel?
If the excessive pain and stiffness caused by Policeman’s Heel is beginning to impact your daily life, you’ll be glad to know there are lots of things you can try to reduce any discomfort.
The first thing you can do is apply ice to the area. Cover an ice pack in a clean cloth, then hold it to the bottom of the affected area for around 15-20 minutes, three or four times a day. This will slow down the thickening of the ligament itself.
Certain exercises can be used to stretch out and loosen up the plantar fascia. Toe curls and calf stretches are quick, straightforward incredibly effective; however, if you find they have little to no impact on your symptoms after you’ve tried a few reps a day for a couple of weeks, we’d recommend visiting a trained physiotherapist, who will be able to show you some more advanced movements. Many Policeman’s Heel sufferers also report improvements to their symptoms after wearing night splints, which are designed to stretch out the calves and the arches of your feet overnight.
In more extreme cases, doctors might recommend injecting steroids into the plantar fascia to soothe the pain. This is normally a last resort for patients who have been suffering with the symptoms of Policeman’s Heel for over six months, and who have seen little to no improvement after exploring less invasive treatment methods.
If this sounds like a lot to take in, you’ll be pleased to know that there is an easier way to prevent and treat Policeman’s Heel. Many patients have seen incredible results from wearing orthotic insoles.
How can orthotic insoles help to alleviate your symptoms?
Orthotic insoles work to lessen the amount of pressure being placed on your plantar fascia during everyday activities.
These lightweight, comfortable and highly supportive products can be slotted into the lining of each shoe to cushion the foot arch and encourage even weight distribution.
Orthotic insoles can be worn in all kinds of footwear, from sandals and ballet pumps to heavy-duty work boots. You can use the same pair of insoles if you like, as they are easy to remove and reapply. Some products are even customisable, which means you can experiment with different supporting pads before settling on a combination that works for you (and can trim them down to perfectly fit the shape and size of your shoes).
Best of all, there’s no ‘settling in’ period for Policeman’s Heel insoles. They should feel comfortable as soon as you slot them into your favourite pair of shoes, and you should start to feel the benefits straightaway.
When all is said and done, if you’re looking for a quick, simple and relatively cheap way of nipping the symptoms of Policeman’s Heel in the bud, nothing beats a great quality pair of orthotic insoles!