Bruised Heel

Bruised Heel

A bruised heel, also known and Policeman’s Heel is a contusion or damage to the tissues under the heel causing pain.

A bruised heel is a bruise of the fat pad in the heel. It can result from stepping on a hard object and it can be very painful. If you have a bruise heel, it may feel as if you are walking on a pebble. This pain is persistent and it takes a few days to improve.

Watch this video for some more information about bruised heels and to discover our PROVEN home treatments that can alleviate the pain and accelerate the healing.


What Is A Bruised Heel?

  • A bruised heel is a deep contusion that forms mainly on the heel of the foot. This can extend into the fat pad of the heel. Although a bruised heel can happen on the ball of the foot, the main common site of injury is the heel. As mentioned earlier, if you have a bruised heel, you will feel like you are walking on a pebble.
  • The bruised tissue is damaged, come cells burst, and the inflammatory response is triggered. As with any other tissue inflammation, dolor, or pain is a common symptom. So the pain that you may be feeling is due to inflammation and can be alleviated by the use of anti-inflammatory medication.
  • A bruised heel can be caused by either a sudden impact (such as landing heavily) or repetitive pounding. The heel bone (calcaneus) is protected by a pad of fat. Repeated pounding of the heel can cause the fat pad to be pushed up the side of the heel leaving less of a protective layer causing heel pain.
  • This injury is also sometimes known as Policeman’s heel. It is common in sports requiring a lot of impact onto the heel and in particular soldiers marching up and down on the parade square.
Bruised Heel or Stone Bruise
A Heel Bruise or Stone Bruise is usually due to a deep contusion in the center of the heel. This is famously named after stepping on a stone.

How do you get a Bruised Heel?

The heel os the most common location of a bruised heel because when a person runs or falls, the large majority of the body’s weight rests on the heels. bruised heels occur more often in older people or in people who have a thin fat pad under the heel bone.


Posterior view of the foot fat pad.


You may be at risk of developing Bruised Heel if:

  1. You have a  thin fat pad under your heel bone.
  2. If you are 50 years of age or older
  3. You are overweight
  4. You engage of physical activities that put pressure on the feel such as running and skating
  5. You do not wear shoes that support your feet.


Bruised Heel Fat Pad
Bruised Heel Fat Pad


Sometimes the bruised heel pain is not caused only by inflammation in the foot pad. This pain can be caused by a Bruised Heel Bone. Visit this page for more information about the symptoms and the treatments of a Bruised Heel Bone.

The pain that you feel after stepping on a stone or hard surface can also be caused by another condition called metatarsalgia. For more information visit this page. Metatarsalgia. 


How do you get a Bruise on the ball of the foot?

The ball of the foot is the second most common location for a stone bruise. Although the majority of the weight of the body rests on the heels, the ball of the foot has a much thinner padding than the hell. For this reason, it is more likely to bruise under the right circumstances. As you get older, your fat pad becomes thinner and therefore, your foot is more likely to bruise.


What is the recovery time of a Bruised Heel?

The bruised heel may take a couple to a few days to get better. The recovery time depends of the severity of the bruise.



How to treat a Bruised Heel?

A bruised heel causes a lot of pain. This is mainly because if the activated inflammatory response. In order to decrease the recovery time, it is important to try to reduce the inflammation in the area.

Here are some treatment options:

  1. Treatment consists or rest, ice & elevation.
  2. There is no secret to a bone bruise, it will get better very quickly.
  3. It is also possible to take anti-inflammatories, but the pain will likely be better by the time they take effect.
  4. If the pain is consistent, consider fat pad atrophy.
  5. To treat fat pad atrophy, consider cushioned gel shoes & especially getting new shoes.



Taping for a Bruised Heel Video

A bruised heel, also known and Policeman’s Heel is a contusion or damage to the tissues under the heel causing pain.



Treatment of a Bruised Heel: What can the athlete do about heel pain?

  • Rest until there is no more heel pain.
  • Pad the heel of shoes with shock absorbing insoles or heel pads. These should be worn in both shoes, even if only one heel is bruised.
  • Wearing a raise in only one shoe causes a leg length difference which can cause further problems higher up!
  • Replace running shoes if they are old (more than 400 miles of running) or the soles are weakened through use.


What can a professional do?

  • A sports injury professional will confirm the diagnosis. View our video on heel pain from sports podiatrist Ian Sadler.
  • Advise on insoles (orthotics) or heel pads to protect the fat pad in the heel.
  • Tape the heel to provide pain relief and compress the soft tissue under the heel giving more protection to the bone.


How long will it take to recover?

  • If you catch heel pain early and rest then it should recover quite quickly – within a few days.
  • If you ignore the first onset of pain and the fat pad gets damaged beyond easy repair then this is a very difficult injury to treat. Rest means rest.
  • There is no point you stopping running for a week if you put up scaffolding for a living and are on your feet every day. If you have to be on your feet then ensure you put a shock absorbing and cushioning heel insert into your shoes.