Retrocalcaneal bursitis – the cause of heel pain

  • Retrocalcaneal bursitis is an inflammatory condition of the bursa (pad) between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone
  • Pain is worse while walking uphill and can be aggravated by direct pressure from footwear
  • This condition often feels better in high heels or when walking on toes


  • Wear shoes that have a 2-3″ heel and that doesn’t put direct pressure on the painful area (due to a firm heel cup or strap). For those who don’t wear heels, add a 6-8mm heel wedge into your daily footwear (available from physio & chiro clinics)
  • This condition can respond reasonably well to topical anti-inflammatory gel and ice cube massage
  • This condition is often misdiagnosed as Achilles tendinopathy and gets worse with heel raise exercises


  • You don’t need to rest completely with this injury – try running slower on flat terrain and add a heel wedge to your shoes if needed
  • Classic calf strengthening exercises can make this condition worse
  • Although this condition can occur in any age group, be wary of bony involvement from Sever’s Disease (growing pains) in 10-14 year old adolescents and Hagglund’s Deformity in older populations

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