Are you familiar with your bursae? If you’ve never had bursitis, you probably aren’t, and that’s a good thing—it’s their job not be noticed. Bursae are small sacs of fluid that exist in many of your body’s major joints, including your heel and your big toe. Their goal: to keep tendons, bones, and muscles cushioned as they glide against one another, allowing you to move freely and without painful friction.
If you have had bursitis, though, you know just how important your bursae are, because you know what it’s like when they’re inflamed and not working properly: pain, stiffness, swelling, and in some cases even rashes or fever.
If you’ve had bursitis in your feet, how do you keep it from coming back? Although no prevention method is 100% effective, try some of these strategies to keep your bursae and your joints gliding smoothly:
- The most common cause of bursitis in the feet are repetitive motions from athletic participation, particularly runners or those who play sports with a lot of running and/or jumping. If you’re an athlete finding yourself struggling with bursitis frequently, you may need to give yourself more breaks and rest time between runs or games. Stay fit and active by cross-training in lower-impact exercises and activities, like going for a bike ride or using an elliptical.
- Practice regular stretching, flexibility, and range of motion exercises. Achilles stretches in particular are great for keeping pressure off the heel bursa. You also want to keep the ankle and its supporting structures strong.
- Make sure you’re wearing shoes that provide enough support for your feet (particularly the arches). Doing so will put less stress on the tendons surrounding the heel bursa. You may need some sort of shoe insert, either an over-the-counter support (if that works well enough for you) or a full custom orthotic made by our office.