For some time I have been having problems with my left heel. It came on abruptly. One day at work it hurt to walk on it. Then over the days off, it stopped but took up again when work started and subsequently refused to abate completely... ranging from a low pain to something much worse that made me limp badly and look for the best way to avoid walking all together.
When it had first started, I brought it up on a visit to the doc, who suggested it was a "heel spur" and would respond to shoe inserts called "heel cups" which she said would set me back at least $20. Not having that in the budget, I put it on "the list" and kept on. I also researched "heel spur" and found that heel pain was as often, if not more often, related to plantar fasciitis. I also researched exercises but have not yet got around to doing them.
However I did finally have enough funds in the discretionary budget to begin looking for heel cups and found both that type of insert and another which does not cup the heel quite so well, but supports the outer part of the foot as well... both at WalMart and each for well under $20. Both packages said the helped my problem (heel pain) and both were made by the Dr. Scholls company with a good guarantee so I bought both. I was on the way to the doc again and figured I would show them both to her for input and possibly return one.
She advised for the actual heel cup and I installed it in my work shoes. These heel cups are very "gel" like plastic, sticky... and not anything I would want to put in a shoe that I often wear without socks. The longer inserts have a gel part under the heel but the most of the insert has a much more friendly texture... a bit soft and not sticky or plastic feeling. I had got my yearly pair of "cheap tennies" (the $5 special... up from the $3 I used to spend annually) for the garden; those things have NO padding to speak of, and I often wear them without socks as I seldom don socks except for work during the summer; they are now home to the longer inserts.
It was amazing how quickly I noticed a difference! Both of the inserts immediately reduced the pain in my heel down to at most a 2 on the pain scale and there are times now that I do not hurt!
The most surprising thing to me, though, was discovering that my knees -- which have no padding left... the specialist took x-rays and said they are bone to bone and that I need to consider surgery -- are hurting in general far less... even the right one which is even less connected to the heel than the one on the left!
So, as they say, "everything is connected."