Your heels take a lot of the impact when you're walking or running, so it's no surprise that they're one of the more common parts of the foot to suffer problems. As there isn't much padding around the heel, the pain felt there can be excruciating, often getting worse over time. It's difficult to keep off your feet long enough to give them a good rest, which can make it difficult to treat heel complaints.

One particularly common heel problem is plantar fasciitis, which is also known as policeman's heel. Suffering from this condition can be extremely uncomfortable, but luckily, it tends to heal eventually, with help available to improve the symptoms in the meantime. Here's all the information you need.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

Over time, damage can occur to the plantar fascia. This is a strip of tissue underneath the heel that often bears the brunt of everyday life. It can begin to pick up tiny tears, becoming inflamed and sore. This tends to get worse because it's not usually possible to just stop and rest it for a long period.

It's more common among people who are overweight, due to the increased pressure on the heels. It's also a risk from lifestyles that involve a lot of standing.

What are the symptoms?

Sharp pains underneath the heel are a dead giveaway of policeman's heel. The pain might be worst in the morning and when you stand up after resting for a while.

In addition to the pain, you might also notice a stiff sensation in the area around the heel, that can make walking difficult.

How can it be treated?

Resting as much as possible goes a long way to helping plantar fasciitis heal, but it's not always possible to spend enough time off your feet. If you find it painful to walk, orthotics can be of great help, simultaneously relieving discomfort and speeding up healing.

Stretching exercises are another useful tool, which should be done under the guidance of a podiatrist or physiotherapist.

To reduce the pain, try soaking your feet in hot water as you relax.

How can it be prevented?

As with a lot of foot problems, plantar fasciitis can sometimes be prevented by avoiding ill-fitting shoes. You should also choose footwear that has adequate cushioning to soften impacts.

Try to avoid standing still for long periods of time, and stretch your feet and legs regularly.