Home » Forget Spiky Ball Massage This Is How A Podiatrist Treats Heel Pain
forget spiky ball massage for your feet and heel pain do this instead

Forget Spiky Ball Massage This Is How A Podiatrist Treats Heel Pain

Hey you with a sore heel, have you read online that you need to use a spiky ball massage technique?

Hardy little devils, spiky balls come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are a mainstay of wellness blogs. There’s also plenty of health professionals, not just podiatrists but physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths too who love a spiky ball too.

And maybe spiky balls have a place.

But you’re suffering from heel pain. You want it to get better and stay better. And you want it better now. For that, spiky ball massage isn’t your best option. 

As a podiatrist, consulting in our clinics and teaching at La Trobe University here’s my top 3 things you need to do if you have heel pain. 

If you take action, you’ll have the best chance at overcoming your heel pain and getting on with life. All without wasting a cent on a prickly spiky ball.

Get an accurate diagnosis

How are you going to treat and overcome your heel pain if you don’t know what it is or what is causing it?

Sure, plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. And maybe you have it. But what if you don’t? The treatments that work for plantar fasciitis are not necessarily going to work for Baxter’s Nerve Entrapment, Fat Pad Odema or any of the other types of heel pain.

Your best bet is to get into your PridePlus Health podiatrist for your personal, accurate and timely diagnosis. 

If you’re reading this from further away you could do worse than start with our Free Online Heel Pain Test.

Treat the cause of your heel pain

Now that you have a diagnosis, you can start treating the cause (or as us podiatrists like to say, the contributing factors).

If your heel pain is caused by weak muscles – you can get them stronger. And you won’t need a spiky ball for that. Appropriate exercises, often involving the calf muscles as well as the intrinsic muscles in your feet are a mainstay.

Or maybe your sore heel is caused by too much twisting and bending of tissues that don’t like to be twisted. How’s a spikey ball massage going to help with that? 

Changing the load and the twisting of your heel bone can be completed with the right shoes and the right orthotics for your needs.

Treat the symptoms of your heel pain – the pain itself

Maybe here is where a spiky ball massage can come in helpful? 

The symptoms you feel,  the pain as well as the depression and funk we get from not being able to do what you want needs to be addressed.

Your heel pain can be reduced in the short term, depending on the exact type of heel pain, by the following:

And maybe, just maybe here is where a spiky ball can come in handy.

Spiky ball massage for heel pain

If you roll the bottom of your foot over a spiky ball and press down with firm pressure you’ll feel some spots are more tender than others. This discomfort is a perverse form of brain training. Your grey matter upstairs starts to focus on what the ball is doing to your foot, and can dissociate the original heel pain.

Is that a win for spiky balls then?

For some people with heel pain it does feel a little better but this is fleeting. If you have heel pain and all you do to treat it is a regular spikey ball massage you’ll probably still have heel pain for many months to come.

It’s this extended, chronic heel pain which has significant adverse effects on our quality of life including affecting our mental health.

So before you reach for your spiky ball. Ask yourself, have you first done 1, 2 and 3 on this list?

If not, forget spiky ball massage. Get started with your diagnosis, treating the cause and the symptoms of your heel pain.

Your body will thank you as you feel better, move more and enjoy your active life again.

And if you do reach for that spiky ball after completing the top 3 tips you’ll know that you’re set up for success. Any fleeting improvements to your heel pain from a spiky ball massage can be smugly savoured knowing you’re on track to feeling great again.

Our Clients Most Frequently Asked Questions About Spikey Ball Massage

These questions are the ones that us podiatrists (and our physiotherapy colleagues) get the most often in clinic about spikey massage balls.

Is self massage effective for plantar fasciitis?

Self massage isn’t an effective treatment on it’s own for plantar fasciitis. If you replace “spiky ball” with “self massage” in this post you basically are in the same place. Start with your diagnosis, treat the cause and manage your symptoms with the more effective measure we discussed earlier and you will have the best treatment plan for your plantar fasciitis. 

What does the spiky ball do for plantar fasciitis?

A spiky massage ball doesn’t do much on it’s own for plantar fasciitis. If you have heel pain or feel like there’s a tight muscle in your calf pulling on your heel bone there are much more effective measures you can take.

To loosen up tight muscles and increase the range of motion in your ankle you need to exercise, rather than using a spiky massage ball. By increasing the capacity and the length of your calf muscles to do work they won’t feel like there is significant muscle tension pulling at your heel. 

While the spiked massage balls are a popular tool, they need to be considered as an adjunct, a little cherry on top of your treatment plan. Get your contributing factors sorted first, make sure you get plenty of time in for healthy muscle recovery between exercises and you’ll be on your way to overcoming your plantar fasciitis.

How long do spiky balls last?

The best thing I could say about a spiky ball is that they last forever! Most of us lose them or get tired of using them as an aid in injury prevention before they lose their spikes.

Are massage balls worth it?

Massage balls aren’t the 1st, 2nd or 3rd most important treatment for your heel pain. So, in a world of unlimited resources and time, the small short term pain relief you feel by rubbing our your sore spots in your feet might be worth it to you. 

Can I use a golf ball massage for my plantar fasciitis?

For golfers, and those who live with golfers there’s often plenty of access to golf balls – and less access to spiky balls. The same rules apply for golf balls as spiky massage balls. You absolutely can use a golf ball under your feet to massage. Keeping your feet flat on the ground and rolling over any trigger points or tight spots can provide some short term relief.


Make sure you address the factors that cause your plantar fasciitis or heel pain first so that you can get rid of your pain for good.

Are spiky balls good for feet?

The spiky surface of massage balls can feel good for your feet in the same way a deep tissue massage can feel good. If you monitor your pain levels and make sure you are keeping your feet strong and active then using a spiky ball on a regular basis is unlikely to cause you any harm.

About the Author

tim mulholland podiatrist melbourne and pascoe vale

Podiatrist Tim Mulholland doesn’t want you to be struggling with heel pain. He’s a busy podiatrist and keen runner too. He understands that when your heel is sore, it’s more than just a pain. It’s a burden on your life and you want if fixed now. If you can prioritise your heel pain treatment like Tim shares above you’ll have the best chance of recovery in time for you to get back to what you love.