The Do’s and Don’ts of Plantar Fasciitis

plantar fasciitisThe Do’s and Don’ts of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis) is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves pain and inflammation of the thick band of tissue on the bottom of your foot, called the plantar fascia. It connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch of the foot. When the plantar fascia becomes inflamed, it is called plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis can cause a stabbing pain that usually occurs as you step out of bed in the morning or when you stand up after sitting for a long period of time. Once your foot warms up, the pain of plantar fasciitis normally decreases, but it may return after long periods of standing or after getting up from a seated position.

Plantar fasciitis is particularly common in runners, but people who are overweight and those who wear shoes with inadequate support are also at risk of plantar fasciitis.

It is highly recommended that you seek the opinion of a medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of plantar fasciitis, but here are a few do’s and don’ts that you can do on your own to help prevent getting plantar fasciitis.

The Do’s of Plantar Fasciitis

  1. Rest– Your body must rest to heal. If you start feeling pain in your feet, take some time off of your routine. That may mean that you give up your usual exercise routine for awhile, but it is the best thing to do. You can find alternative ways to exercise which are consider more “non-weight bearing” activities. Swimming and biking are great alternatives to running or aerobics. Consider any activity that keeps the weight off of your feet. Remember, running usually means 2-3 times your body weight transferring through your feet with every stride!
  2. Stretching-Stretching and strengtheningthe muscles of the ankle and foot will not only help in your recovery, but will also help to prevent the pain from recurring. Wearing a night splint while sleeping can help keep your foot stretched while you sleep so the pain is diminished in the morning. You should also keep a towel near your bed so you can stretch your feet in the morning before you stand up. Standing up without stretching out your feet can cause real damage and should be avoided at all times!
  3. Ice and elevation (RICE Method) – If you continue movement that places pressure on your foot, even walking, it’s important to ice frequently and elevate to reduce swelling. The RICE method stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. At the end of the day, wrap the arch of your feet with an ice pack and a compression bandage or sock. Elevate your foot and rest your foot for 20-30 minutes.

The Don’ts of Plantar Fasciitis

  1. Don’t push through the pain. Often a couple of weeks of reduced activity and following the steps above will help tremendously. Pushing through the pain can lead to increased tearing of the plantar fascia which can lead to rupturing of the plantar fascia. Pain is the bodies way of letting us know to take it easy, so it’s best to listen!
  2. Don’t go barefoot. Going barefoot while dealing with plantar fasciitis is a definite no-no. You can get a pair of slippers or sandals with good support for use around the house. You should also wear a good pair of shoes with arch support during the day. Just because you do not feel the pain during the daytime doesn’t mean you are not causing damage. Shoes that have a good arch and heel support should be worn at all times until weeks after the pain subsides. Also, you should consider replacing your athletic shoes after 250-300 miles of wear. This mileage can add up quickly so it is important to track your overall usage. Just because a pair of shoes doesn’t visually appear to be worn out, does not mean they have not gone past their recommended mileage. If you average 5 miles per day, 5 days per week, you are logging 25 miles per week on your running shoes. If you only wear your running shoes for running and nothing else, you will wear those shoes out in 10-12 weeks. Most people wear their running shoes for many other occasions other than running, which adds more miles to those shoes.
  3. Don’t assume that you’ll never get back to exercising again! Look for alternative exercises that don’t require you to push off your foot. For many people, this can be one of the largest obstacles to healing any foot related issue. The main reason why inflammations in our feet are so difficult to heal is because it is so challenging to simply “get off our feet”. The main habit that can change for most people is the way you exercise. Continuing to run while trying to heal plantar fasciitis will make the healing process very difficult. This is not to say you will never run again! Plantar fasciitis is inflammation and absolutely can heal if allowed to. Consider biking, swimming or weight training as alternatives until your condition has fully healed.

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