A jolt of searing heel pain can derail many new exercisers from their 2019 fitness resolutions but there are ways to treat and prevent those agonizing foot problems, says a leading orthopedics expert.

“Prevention is the best cure by stretching the calf muscle with the knee extended,’’ said Daniel Latt, MD, PhD, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle surgery as well as orthopedic sports medicine. Latt is affiliated with Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, where he serves as an associate professor in the University of Arizona Department of Orthopedic Surgery.

Regular stretching like that can prevent the development of plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis, Latt says.

The often-painful conditions happen to patients when they try to do too much fitness in too short of a time, he says. “(Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis) are two injuries in people who don’t exercise regularly when they try to increase their level of activity,’’ he said.

Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis are related to the calf muscles. When the calf muscles are too tight, ankles can’t bend far enough, and all the strain of activity goes into the heel area, he said.

While both conditions can be excruciatingly painful, they can both be easy to treat, Latt says.

In addition to stretching their calves, patients can insert gel pads in their shoes to cushion their feet and take anti-inflammatories to prevent further inflammation.

By following those simple procedures, 90 percent of patients can get better in three to six months, he said.