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Stop Running Like This If You Want to Avoid Heel Pain

Mar 02, 2024
Running is a great pastime and an excellent way to stay in shape – unless you start having heel pain. Read on to discover how to run correctly to avoid injuries and painful heels that keep you off your feet.

You don't have to be a marathon runner to stay in shape – running for pleasure or short distances is excellent for your health. However, running takes a toll on your joints, muscles, and tendons, especially your feet.

Running correctly is the best way to avoid injuries and keep your feet healthy and safe. Improper techniques have serious consequences, including heel pain, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis.

If you're having heel pain and you're a runner, Dr. Daniel Cairns and the team at Toe-Tal Foot and Ankle Care have the guidance to help you reduce discomfort so you can get you back on your feet. Dr. Cairns is a board-certified podiatrist, offering a fast diagnosis and personalized care for foot and ankle problems.

Running mistakes that affect your feet

For many people, running is an escape and a fantastic way to stay in shape and get adequate cardio. However, if you're not careful, running also leads to injuries and chronic conditions in the ankles and feet.

There's a right and wrong way to run; learning the wrong way helps you avoid painful injuries. If you're running with any of the following, you're at an increased risk for heel pain and other injuries:

Long strides

Although it may seem like longer strides are better, the opposite is true. Shortening your stride length helps your balance and allows you to run faster. Long strides put the feet in front of the knees, putting pressure on your entire body and heels.

Heel striking

Landing on your heel is familiar with long strides while running. It increases the risk of injury and chronic pain. Aim to shorten your stride and land on the middle part of the foot.

Low cadence

Cadence is the number of steps you take while running per minute. A cadence under 170 steps per minute increases the risk of injury. Aim for a cadence of 170-180 for optimal foot and body health.

Not leaning forward

Running without leaning forward puts much strain on the body, which may result in heel pain, sprained ankles, and plantar fasciitis. Keep your upper body slightly forward while running for optimal stride and cadence.

Uneven hips

The uneven hip position puts you at risk for various bodily injuries. Avoid letting the hip on the side that comes off the ground while running drop. While this doesn't directly affect the heels, uneven hips strain the knees, causing long-term problems and injury.

Tips to prevent heel pain from running

You don't want to deal with heel pain when you're an avid runner. Learning to run correctly prevents injury and increases your ability to run effectively. Dr. Cairns offers the following tips to avoid heel pain in runners:


Stretching after a run is essential for injury prevention and optimal running health. Aim to stretch the hips, glutes, hamstrings, and ankles. Stretching the calves is crucial in preventing problems like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis.

Look into orthotics

Orthotics are shoe inserts that provide increased comfort and stability in the feet. If you have mild heel pain, an over-the-counter shoe insert is fine. For more severe cases of heel pain while running, Dr. Cairns offers customized orthotics to ensure your feet are safe for your favorite pastime.

Take time to rest

Running too much too fast causes excess strain on the feet, knees, and hips. Take your time and take a few days out of the week to allow your body to rest. Without rest, you're at a higher risk for heel pain and other running injuries.

Invest in good shoes

Running shoes are vital to the sport. Choosing a pair that fits you perfectly and provides ample arch support and cushioning is essential for comfort and injury prevention.


While running is great for your entire body, it shouldn't be your only exercise. Cross-training and doing strength exercises throughout the week help strengthen your muscles and protect the joints.

Minimize hill running

Hill running is very hard on your legs and feet and may lead to Achilles tendonitis. Minimize or avoid hill running altogether, especially if you have plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis with heel pain.

To learn more about how to avoid heel pain or to schedule an evaluation, call us at 817-518-7348 or send us a message by clicking here.