Feels like: Pain in the back of your heel and lower calf
What it is: The Achilles tendon, which connects your calf muscle to your heel, can be irritated by walking too much, especially if you don't build up to it. Repeated flexing of the foot when walking up and down steep hills or on uneven terrain can also strain the tendon, triggering lower leg pain.
What to do about it: For mild cases, reduce your mileage or substitute non-weight-bearing activities such as swimming or upper-body strength training, so long as these don't aggravate the pain. Avoid walking uphill, because this increases the stretch on the tendon, irritating it and making it weaker. Regular calf stretches may help prevent Achilles tendinitis, says Michael J. Mueller, PT, PhD, a professor of physical therapy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. In severe cases, limit or stop walking and place cold packs on the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes, up to 3 to 4 times a day, to reduce inflammation and pain. When you return to walking, stick to flat surfaces to keep your foot in a neutral position, and gradually increase your distance and intensity. Contact the Foot Health Team of Dr. Peter F. Gregory, D.P.M. for help if you suffer with this problem.