Heel Seats and Heel Cups

Using heel cups or heel seats is a common treatment method for plantar fasciitis.  Heel seats are devices that fit into your shoes and sit under the heels, and raise the rear of the foot slightly to ease the strain on the plantar fascia and to provide an extra degree of cushioning – something particularly important if the plantar fasciitis is also accompanied by bony heel spurs. Heel seats and cups are generally made of a soft rubber or gel-like material, and raise the heel up anywhere from ¼ to 1 inch. 

The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain in the heel, especially upon taking the first steps in the morning or after a period of rest.  These devices provide a fair amount of cushioning which can greatly relieve the pain from plantar fasciitis, with many sufferers claiming that the relief is instantaneous. By lifting the back of the foot up, these devices  take the pressure off  during walking or running, lessening the amount of weight placed the back of the foot has to deal with.

Most over-the-counter models are soft and only effective for those with mild to moderate plantar fasciitis.  In less severe cases, the plantar fascia may just need a little rest in order to mend itself and soft heel cups can remove some of the burden on the underside of the foot.  For more severe cases, the soft variety does not provide the arch support and a full length insole may be a better choice. The soft variety, commonly known as gel seatsmay be useful for more severe cases if worn for the first few steps of the morning when pain is severe and when walking without extra cushioning is unbearable. 

Models with rigid sides may be more useful for severe cases of plantar fasciitis.  Unlike the soft models, a rigid designactually supports the back of the foot better, and fit around the foot more snugly, and can help to improve stability. Unfortunately, for some people the rigid design can cause irritation, depending on where heel spurs have formed. If directly under the calcaneus bone most people enjoy considerable pain relief, however spurs on the outside may not get quite the same level of cushioning. The good news is that for most people, these devices are a highly effective heel pain treatment option

Whilst plantar fasciitis pain can be reduced, some choose to wear these correcive inserts for Achilles tendonitis, however whilst they can ease the pain from this condition, it is inadvisable to wear them without first consulting a podiatrist or doctor. A raised heel will ease the strain on the tendon, but this can actually lead to a worsening of the condition and greater pain.

In all cases, from mild to severe, it is important to remember that the foot is not designed to walk around with a raised heel.  The muscles and tendons of the ankle and back of the leg are not stretched or strengthened when the heel is raised during walking.  Tightening and atrophying of these muscles and tendons can occur, most notably with the Achilles tendon. 

Many people find that heel cups do relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis and if you get relief from them, then you should certainly wear them.  Taking them out of your shoes for about 50% of your walking or standing time will give your feet and legs a chance to stretch and strengthen the way they are meant to. If you do decide to wear them whenever you walk, it is important to keep up with your overall foot health in other ways.  Try stretching and doing strengthening exercises for the front and backs of the calves as well as the Achilles tendon while sitting or lying down. 

If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, you may find that these inserts are instantly effective and will let you walk pain free once more, and with a relatively low cost, for any sufferer of this painful bottom of foot problem they are highly recommended, and can speed up rehabilitation from this painful foot condition.