Treatment For Arch Pain & Heel Pain

Treatment for arch pain & heel pain can include a range of soft tissue therapies and rehabilitation principles to prevent reoccurence. The primary goals of treatment are pain relief, increased blood flow, collagen regeneration and scar tissue resolution. The secondary goals of treatment are to rehab principles that reduce ongoing strain in the arch & heel and increase the strength of the whole lower limb. 

 Acupuncture For Arch & Heel Pain

Acupuncture needles can be used as treatment for pain in the arch & the heel with great success in many cases. Acupuncture’s intention is to stimulate blood flow and triggers nerve impulses that override pain signals in the soft tissues of feet and calf muscles. 

There is no way to sugar coat the topic of acupuncture as treatment for arch pain and heel pain.. it’s not fun. It doesn’t take much imagination to see why it might hurt to get acupuncture in the sole of an inflamed foot even when it’s done really gently and carefully .. which it is. The truth is however that in the grand scheme of healthcare there are certainly worse things ( see tooth extraction – joint replacement surgery – radiation therapy ) and the pain is no worse than a tattoo or  laser hair removal. 

 The limitation of acupuncture as treatment for arch pain and heel pain is basically that like all healthcare interventions it doesn’t work for everyone. Some people find that acupuncture gives them almost miraculous relief and others find it only makes a very small or temporary difference. It’s worth remembering that the same is true for all treatments, drugs and surgical procedures. 

 Guasha (scar tissue scraping) For Arch & Heel Pain

 Guasha is an ancient pain treatment technique that happens to still  be extremely useful for managing a wide range of soft tissue complaints to this very day.

Guasha technique ( and there are numerous modern interpretations like Graston Technique ) aims to break up scar tissue, free the connective tissue and promote blood flow. It does this marvellously well. 

There are various ways of employing Guasha as treatment for arch pain and heel pain but what they all have in common is the act of scraping the soft tissue of the foot with a blunt scraping tool. Like acupuncture this isn’t the most fun thing to be having done for most of us but sessions only need to be 10 or so minutes long and it beats being crippled by foot pain. 

Based on 2 decades of clinical experience and exploring a huge number of treatment options for pain in the heel and arch of the foot, if we were only allowed one tool it would be Guasha hands down. By far the majority of people getting treatment for arch pain and heel pain will experience noticeable changes within a handful of Guasha sessions if it’s done right. 

 Percussion For Arch & Heel Pain

 Percussion has been an established component of soft tissue release, massage and even respiratory healthcare  for thousands of years and it is no less effective today. Percussion massage as treatment for arch pain and heel pain generally involves the use of mechanical massage devices and is designed to break up scar tissue and promote blood flow within the soft tissues. 

 At our clinic believe it or not we have found that a modified power tool works better as a treatment for arch pain than most off the shelf massage devices. Shhh don’t tell anyone our secrets! The key to success is using a device that is powerful enough to create vibration deep within the soft tissues. 

Percussion is helpful for the majority of people seeking treatment for arch pain and heel pain. Percussion is generally at its best when used in combination with the other treatments for arch pain and heel pain like those in this list. 

Custom Insoles/Orthotics For Arch & Heel Pain

 Before the invention of hard flat surfaces like concrete, paving and tarmac humans walked mostly on soft ground. When the human foot interacts with soft natural surfaces the space under the arch is generally filled in by the ground – this is most obvious on sand where we leave a footprint behind. Human footprints on natural ground provide natural arch support to the feet !! 

 If the arch is not supported over time ( like when you live in a city ) it creates stress in the sole of the foot. Orthotics push up on the arch and give it natural support helps alleviate much of the strain that causes arch pain and heel pain. Heel cushion modifications in orthotics also mimic the shock absorption offered by soft ground. 

 Most people with arch pain and heel pain who are prescribed orthotics in our clinic find them to be an absolute game changer. For many the benefits of orthotics as treatment for plantar fasciitis pain are of course time dependent because they work by reducing stress in the feet over . Reducing stress on the arch with orthotics reduces inflammation and scar tissue build up in the foot… which feels good ! 

Exercises For Arch & Heel Pain

An important part of the trick to successfully managing the old ‘pain in my foot’ scenario is of course to figure out what movement patterns, weaknesses or tightness caused it in the first place. Depending on the reason for the pain in the arch & heel specific exercises may be necessary to address specific muscle weaknesses and imbalances. 

There are basically 2 kinds of exercises that are used as treatment for pain in the arch of the foot. Exercises that seek to treat the pain itself by stretching the connective tissue to provide relief, and those that seek to strengthen the underlying muscle imbalances that caused the problem in the first place. 

The typical stretch exercises for arch & heel pain (often using the body weight) stretch the soft tissues . This type of exercise seeks to work as treatment for arch plantar fasciitis pain and heel pain by restoring flexibility to the plantar soft tissues. 

The typical strength exercise for the underlying weaknesses that cause stress in the arch of the foot involves ‘functional’ weight bearing exercises like those we do on wobble boards and in gyms. These exercises target not only the strength of the foot itself but also the knee and hip where arch stability is largely dictated. 

They key takeaway from this if you are seeking treatment for arch pain is that a major part of the problem you have is likely to be muscle weakness in the foot and leg. 

In our experience it can be very very hard to use stretching type exercises as the sole method of treatment for arch pain once there is scar tissue in the foot. Ultimately most people need hands on treatment for the pain in their foot..

Closing Thoughts

Many people find that the pain in the arch/heel is reasonably easy to treat. As with many things in life the sooner we get onto the situation the better. A good indicator of whether you need professional attention for pain in the arch or heel of the foot is if the symptom is persistent or recurrent.