If you’re a runner, soccer player, participant in marathons, or play in any high-impact sport, you may be familiar with a dreaded condition that can take even the most talented and careful athletes off their feet: plantar fasciitis. This common orthopedic struggle benches nearly 2 million patients every single year with heel pain -- but is there anything you can do to protect your feet and keep yourself in the game?
At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, we want you to know that the answer is “yes.” While it is common, plantar fasciitis can be preventable with knowledge and support. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your feet stay healthy, rested, and pain-free:
1. Have an Understanding of Plantar Fasciitis
Essentially, plantar fasciitis is the result of inflammation in the strong band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot and connects from your heel to your toes, known as the “plantar fascia.” This inflammation and irritation is the result of too much pressure and stress being placed on this tissue -- even though it is designed to absorb strong impacts to your feet, it is still vulnerable to painful tears and uncomfortable stiffness.
In addition to understanding plantar fasciitis itself, it’s also important to understand your particular risk factors for the condition. Certain people are more at risk for developing plantar fasciitis than others, including:
- People over a certain BMI (Body Mass Index)
- Certain foot types; flat arches and high arches
- Tight calf muscles
- Work that consists of prolonged walking and standing
- Running on hard surfaces (avoid sidewalks, run on a treadmill, bike path or side streets)
- Training errors; over-training or excessive sudden increases in training
Once you’re aware of your increased risk factors, you can begin practicing caution to prevent the onset of plantar fasciitis.
2. Wear the Right Shoes for Your Feet
If you’ve determined you’re at particularly high risk for developing plantar fasciitis, it’s time to start making some lifestyle adjustments to protect your feet from harm. Believe it or not, buying a new pair of shoes is a great place to start. Choosing appropriate footwear that provides your feet with proper support can make a huge difference, not just in decreasing your risk of plantar fasciitis, but in the way your feet feel after a day of standing, walking or running. The proper shoe should fully support your arches, be flexible (but firm) in the midsole, and provide plenty of padding for your foot. You may even consider a removable insole to support your foot.
If you’d like the advice of a specialist in choosing your next pair of shoes, our foot and ankle experts are happy to offer you their advice before you go shopping.
3. Stretch and Exercise Your Foot Tissues
Listed below are recommended stretches and strengthening exercises. For additional information click on the link to view pictures of the recommended exercises for preventing plantar fasciitis here.
- Calf stretch: Stand and place one foot against the wall, then place your other leg behind it with your heel on the ground, foot parallel to the front one and knee straight. Keep your torso upright and push your hips forward.
- Standing soleus stretching: Stand and place both hands on a wall, then place one leg behind the other and slowly bend your knees while keeping the heels on the floor.
- Plantar fascia release: Sit on a straight back chair with one foot on a tennis ball, the other foot flat on the floor and your back slightly arched. Then roll the ball under the arch of your foot from heel to toes.
- Toe spread with heel raise: Sit at the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor and spread your toes, then raise your heels off the ground, keeping your toes and the ball of your foot on it. Slowly lower the heels back to the ground, shortening the arch of the foot. Hold the position for a few seconds and relax.
4. Address Any Symptoms As Soon As You Can
Sometimes, preventative measures for plantar fasciitis can be too little too late. You may already be experiencing pain in your feet, and you may suspect that plantar fasciitis is the underlying cause. If this is the case, consider the following questions:
- Where is your pain? Is it in the bottom of your heel, toward the inside of your foot?
- Does your foot hurt more after long walks or runs?
- Is the pain most severe when you take your first steps out of bed in the morning?
- Do you have arch pain when you take your first few steps after sitting?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it’s likely that the symptoms of plantar fasciitis have already begun, and it’s time to visit a specialist. To find the right provider at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, please visit our website here.
While plantar fasciitis is extremely common, if left untreated for a long period of time your symptoms could worsen and take longer to resolve. Pain along the plantar fascia can negatively affect other parts of your body, including your knees, hips and back due to compensation. The sooner you address the symptoms the sooner you’ll get back to the activities you enjoy.
Don’t let plantar fasciitis keep you off your feet. Our physicians will work closely with you to make an accurate diagnosis and treatment to get you off the bench and back to your life. To schedule an appointment, contact our office at (847) 285-4200 or complete an online form here.
For urgent needs when our physician’s office is closed, visit our Immediate Orthopedic Care (IOC) in Schaumburg, Illinois.