What is plantar fasciitis?
One of the most common orthopedic complaints is plantar fasciitis. The ligaments of your plantar fascia experience wear and tear every day. The plantar fascia ligaments normally function as shock absorbers which support the arch of the foot. However, putting too much pressure on your feet can damage or tear the ligaments, and the plantar fascia becomes inflamed. This inflammation causes heel pain and stiffness.
This is one of the common causes of heel pain. Plantar fasciitis involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue which runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. Plantar fasciitis usually causes piercing pain, which is the most intense especially during the morning after long hours of sleep or rest. The pain usually decreases as you move along, but it might return after long periods of standing or after rising from sitting.
Plantar fasciitis is common in athletes, especially runners. People who wear shoes with inadequate support and are overweight also have an increased risk of plantar fasciitis.
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
The pain on the bottom of the heel is the major complaint of people who are suffering from plantar fasciitis. However, some people experience the pain at the bottom mid-foot area, which develops gradually over time. This only usually affects just one foot, but generally, it can affect both feet. Some people also describe the pain as dull, while other people experience a sharp pain. There are also people who feel a burning sensation or ache in the bottom of the foot which extends outward from the heel.
Based on research, the pain is usually worse in the morning when you take your first steps out of bed after waking up from a long sleep. However, it can also be triggered by long periods of standing or lying down for a while. Due to heel stiffness, climbing the stairs can prove to be very difficult.
The pain can flare up due to increased inflammation after prolonged activity. However, the pain cannot be felt during the activity but rather just after stopping.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
If you’re overweight or obese, you are at a greater risk of developing plantar fasciitis because of the increased pressure on your plantar fascia ligaments, especially if you have sudden weight gain. Pregnant women also often experience bouts of plantar fasciitis, particularly during late pregnancy.
Long-distance runners are more prone to developing plantar fasciitis. People who are into occupations which involve being on their feet all day long, such as working in a factory, department store or restaurants, are also at risk. Active people between the ages 40-70 years old are also at high risk of developing plantar fasciitis. However, this is slightly more common in women than in men.
You may develop plantar fasciitis if you have structural foot problems, such as very high arches or very flat feet. When the tendons attaching your calf muscles to your heels, Achilles tendons, get tight, it may also result in plantar fascia pain. Wearing shoes with soft soles and poor arch support can also result in plantar fasciitis.
How to prevent from having plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a notoriously stubborn injury which strikes when the thick band of fibers that runs along the bottom of the foot gets inflamed. The best way to rid yourself of this injury is to make sure you never get it. Here are some tips on how to prevent from having plantar fasciitis.
Whenever you’re walking, running, sitting or standing — relax your lower legs, especially your ankles and calves. When you move, the tension that is held anywhere in your legs or glutes will pull on the plantar tendon.
Land with a midfoot strike
Instead of heel striking, land evenly on the middle of your foot. This act keeps your plantar tendon relaxed. In addition, it reduces the impact on your heels.
Don’t pull yourself forward with your legs
Whether you’re walking or running, you need to engage gravity by letting your upper body lead, and your legs will follow. Lean slightly from the ankles throughout your runs, keep your stride short and land with your feet directly under your center of mass.
Shorten your stride
Taking long strides will only put the plantar fascia into undue stress. Try to take short strides instead, as this may help to get rid of that strain.
Stretching the Plantar Fascia
A study from a university in Rochester discovered that one plantar fascia-specific stretch promoted long term recovery and decreased pain in those suffering from plantar fasciitis.
Maintain a healthy weight
Your feet absorb two and a half times the weight of your body. If you’re overweight, you may have a higher risk of having plantar fasciitis. By maintaining a healthy weight, you can take it easy on your overworked and over-stressed feet and joints.
Proper footwear to prevent plantar fasciitis
Many times people purchase and wear cheap footwear and complain that they experience worst pain afterward. In order to prevent or aid plantar fasciitis, keep in mind to wear the right footwear. Purchasing the right footwear should also be seen as an investment. Find the right footwear that is of good quality, with a price that you can afford, which will help you heal your inflamed plantar fascia or prevent you from suffering it.
Consider the tips on what the wear to avoid having this injury:
Wear the right shoes
Most of the shoes available on the market are eye-catching because of the design and color, but they may cause pain on your heel or make it worse. However, you can prevent having plantar fasciitis by choosing the proper shoes, you just have to look for shoes with good arch support. Shoes with good arch support will provide:
- Insoles and midsoles that are specially designed for proper shock absorption.
- Motion control to correct over-pronation, which encourages proper walking motion.
- Proper and adequate support for your fascia ligament.
- A design, preferably created and/or approved by a podiatrist, for comfort and support.
Shoes with good arch support are designed for your situation and to stabilize improper walking form, compared to other shoes which are designed for offering cushioning, flexibility and styling options.
Wear the right insoles
People who move or stand for long hours on hard floors can greatly benefit from the use of properly designed work shoe insoles. Wearing the right insoles and consistently using them can provide significant relief from plantar fasciitis. Wearing the right insoles can help:
- reduces the impact on your inflamed tissue feels;
- cushions your steps;
- avoid damage to legs, knees, back, and hips;
- avoid painful feet and ankles, swollen feet, fatigues;
- prevents having blisters, calluses, strains, and sprains;
Wear the right socks
Compression socks are other treatment options for plantar fasciitis. Wearing the right compression socks can be very beneficial and decrease pain in the short term. Another good thing about compression socks is that they are the more convenient options for treating plantar fasciitis. The benefits of wearing compression socks include:
- Decreased inflammation
- Reduced swelling
- Increased arch support
- Decreased muscle soreness
- Improved circulation
- Decreased calf cramping
Compression socks can be an effective treatment aid. Plus, they’re convenient and comfortable
Wear the right flip-flops
Wearing flip-flops regularly can strain and stretch the fascia, a sheet of tissue which connects your heel bone to the base of your toes. This can cause severe heel pain, especially as you take your first steps in the morning. However, wearing the right flip-flops can aid or prevent plantar fasciitis. The best flip-flops for plantar fasciitis should provide:
- Excellent arch support
- Contoured footbed
- Deep heel cup
Purchasing cheap flip-flops because of their low price can be alluring but keep in mind that they may not be a good option for plantar fasciitis. These flip-flops tend to hurt your feet because they are flat and do not provide enough support.
What are the options to cure plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis can be incredibly painful especially after waking up in the morning or having done long-distance runs. However, with the right treatment and prevention methods, running will be easy and pain-free in no time. Here are some simple stretching routines you could do to alleviate the symptoms of the injury.
Point your back knee down towards the ground while keeping your foot flat on the floor in order to accentuate this stretch.
First, lean against a wall with your arms outstretched. Then place one foot on the ground in the line extending down from your shoulders, and one foot behind your body. Then keep your back foot flat on the ground and feel a stretch in the back of your heel. Lastly, hold the stretch for a count of 10, and repeat. Do both sides.
Find a stair step or curb in order to perform this stretch.
First, keep the foot that you’re stretch back, and take one step up with the other foot. Then lean into the stairs keeping the back foot flat. Lastly, feel the stretch in the back of the heel, and try to relax and allow your body to lean further into the stairs.
This foot stretch is done in a seated position.
First, reach forward and grasp your foot. Just cross your leg and grasp your foot if you aren’t flexible enough. Then pull your toes up towards your shin while holding your foot with the other hand. Feel a stretch on the bottom of the foot. Hold this stretch for a count of 10 while feeling the stretch along the arch of the foot, and repeat at least 3 times on each side.
Heel cord stretch
This stretch can be done by reaching forward and grasping your foot. For those who aren’t flexible enough, use a towel or sheet and wrap around your toes to pull towards your body.
First, hold the ends of the towel, and loop the middle around your toes. Then keep your knee straight with your toes pointing up. Finally, pull the towel ends which pulls your toes towards your body. This will stretch both the back of your leg and the bottom of your foot.
This stretch can be done anywhere with a wall.
First, stand up against a wall, and place one foot in front of the other. Then keep the front knee straight and place the toes up against the wall as high as possible. Lastly, lean into the wall with the back knee feeling a stretch in the foot and heel of the front foot.
Icing the foot
Get some plastic water bottles (preferably 12 or 16 ounces), or juice containers. Then put the water bottles or the juice containers in your freezer. Once they are frozen, use them to gently roll under your foot. You can repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times a day. After use, put the bottles or the containers back to the freezer for the next treatment.
Prone hip extension
First, lie on your stomach with your legs straight out behind you. After, fold your arms under your head and rest your head on your arms. Then draw your belly button in towards your spine and tighten your abdominal muscles. Then tighten the buttocks and thigh muscles of the leg on your injured side and lift the leg off the floor about 8 inches. Keep your leg straight and hold for 5 seconds then lower your leg and relax. Do this for 2 sets of 15.
Frozen can roll
This method will also help reduce foot paint brought by plantar fasciitis. Slowly roll your bare painful foot back and forth over a frozen can of juice or soda, or an iced water bottle. You can do this massage again for three to five minutes several times a day. Make sure to store the can or the bottle again inside your freezer after every use. This nice massage is particularly helpful if it is done first thing in the morning.
Plantar fascia massage
Sit in a chair and cross the injured foot over the knee of your other leg. Next, place your fingers over the base of the toes of your injured foot and then pull your toes toward your shin until you feel a stretch in the arch of your foot. Then, with your other hand, massage the bottom of your foot, moving from the hell toward your toes. Repeat this for 3-5 minutes.
Pick up a towel with your toes, with your heel on the ground, and then release. Repeat this act for 10 to 20 times. When it gets easy, add more resistance by placing a book or small weight on the towel.