The Running Doctor: Don't ignore heel pain in sports

A large majority of the athletes we are evaluating are complaining of heel pain. If one part of the body is injured (especially the foot), the other parts compensate for it. This, in turn, may set off a chain reaction of additional injuries.

The powerful heel cord-tendon attaches to the back of the heel from the calf. Quick starts that are required in so many sports, along with lack of conditioning, often cause injury.

In younger athletes, the heel growth plate gets injured and often this can continue into adulthood. In adolescent athletes (and some adults) the problem occurs in the arch muscles and tendons—otherwise known as “plantar fasciitis.”

One of the causative factors is the cleated athletic shoes. The body also needs dynamic muscle balance and good biomechanical foot control to limit overuse injuries. Your body will become less able to protect itself once injury symptoms appear.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist. He is a former member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the Olympic Marathon Trials. Dr. Weiss is a veteran of 35 marathons. For more information go to