Experiencing regular foot pain?
You could have succumbed to plantar fasciitis!
What is plantar fasciitis?
This condition is all to do with the plantar fascia, the ligaments that run from the heels to the front of your feet.
When these ligaments become worn or damaged, they start to thicken – and it’s this that eventually leads to that all-too-familiar burning sensation in the heel of your foot, which seems to be worse first thing in the morning or immediately after sitting down for a long period of time.
Plantar fasciitis isn’t actually caused by the inflammation of the same tissues, as some people would have you believe.
What can be done about it?
Those of you who are suffering from plantar fasciitis will know exactly how much discomfort this foot condition can cause on a daily basis. It’s important, then, to make sure you tackle heel pain sooner rather than later.
Stop plantar fasciitis in its tracks before it becomes an issue
Any doctor will tell you that when it comes to plantar fasciitis and other foot-related conditions, prevention is better than cure.
To stop plantar fasciitis from developing in the first place, it’s important to:
Maintain a healthy weight.
If you’re overweight or obese, chances are you’re placing a lot of unnecessary pressure on your feet. Stopping the development of plantar fasciitis is another incentive to eat right and exercise regularly!
But… schedule in regular breaks during exercise.
Whether you’re on a 10 mile hike out in the countryside, or simply on your feet a lot during your working day, we cannot stress enough just how important it is to take the pressure off your lower limbs from time to time. A quick sit-down for 5 or 10 minutes will give your body – and, specifically, your plantar fascia – a much-needed break.
Avoid sports that trigger your symptoms.
If a new training programme has led to the emergence (or recurrence) of plantar fasciitis, you could be placing too much strain on your body. Switch to a low-impact sport such as cycling or swimming, and give your feet a rest.
Wear comfortable footwear.
Look for shoes that are well-fitted, thick-soled and designed to absorb shock. High heels and flimsy soled footwear, such as sandals and flip-flops, won’t provide you with the support you need to keep plantar fasciitis at bay in the long term.
Is your heel pain becoming a real problem?
If you have already developed plantar fasciitis, and it’s starting to affect your comfort and mobility, it’s time to take action!
Apply ice to the area.
Hold an ice pack (covered in cloth, of course) to the bottom of your feet for around 15-20 minutes, three or four times a day. This will help to keep the thickening of the plantar fascia to a minimum.
Stretch your foot arches regularly.
Even the simplest of exercises could help to keep your foot muscles supple, flexible and less prone to further injury. Try toe curls in the first instance, or rolling a tennis ball or a foam roller along the ligaments for a minute or two to loosen them up.
Stretch your calves, too!
Calf stretches can be used to loosen the soleus muscles and reduce pain. Keeping your right knee straight and your right heel on the ground, slowly bend your leg forward and hold the stretch for about 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat this exercise three times on each leg for the best results.
If stretching has little effect on your plantar fascia, visit a qualified physical therapist, you will be able to show you a wider range of techniques specifically designed to increase your foot strength and combat your heel pain.
Apply night splints.
Night splints are designed to stretch your calf and the arch of your foot while you’re asleep. If daily foot stretches aren’t giving you the results you need, it’s well worth asking your doctor about this option.
Buy good quality orthotic insoles.
There are plenty of orthotic insoles for plantar fasciitis on the market. Simple but effective, these insoles can be inserted into any types of footwear to provide extra cushioning to the arch of the foot and specifically the metatarsal bones. Many orthotic insoles can even be customised to provide a tailored level of support to each foot!
For extra comfort, you could also insert a heel lift underneath each insole; this will remove some of the pressure being placed on the tendon and accelerate the healing process. The ideal thickness of the heel lift is around 6mm-8mm.