What is Plantar Fasciitis – and Can You Prevent It?

by | Updated: May 28th, 2021 | Read time: 4 minutes

What is Plantar Fasciitis Represented by Woman Sitting in Chair Massaging Her Foot | Vitacost.com/blog

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition where the fibrous tissue underneath the foot (the plantar fascia) becomes inflamed. This connective tissue runs from the heel bone to where your toes join the balls of your feet and is an integral part of your foot’s construction.

It can be very painful to stand and walk as your weight presses down on the foot. Plantar fasciitis usually presents as a sharp, intense pain in your heel. It’s often more painful first thing in the morning. However, in severe cases, it can be constantly painful whenever your feet bear weight.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

This condition usually results from overuse.

People who stand all day in shoes that don’t provide enough support often get plantar fasciitis. When you suddenly increase your exercise—especially running or walking—inflammation in the plantar fascia can occur as you start tackling longer distances.

Factors such as your weight and the structure of your foot can influence whether or not you develop this condition, as well.

How to prevent plantar fasciitis

As with any medical condition, it’s best to try to avoid getting plantar fasciitis in the first place. Start by following this advice to keep your feet strong and healthy:

1. Maintain a healthy weight

The first and most important prevention method is to keep your body at a healthy weight. This will prevent extra pressure on your feet both when exercising and in everyday life.

Diet and nutrition can play a role in preventing plantar fasciitis, too. A healthy, anti-inflammatory diet or homeopathic formulas that reduce inflammation in the body may also help stop the area from becoming inflamed.

2. Warm up and cool down when exercising

No workout is complete without a proper warmup and cool down. These steps prevent your muscles and ligaments, including the plantar fascia, from getting too tight and inflamed,

3. Wear shoes with proper support

If you’re on your feet a lot or are taking part in high-impact sports, the right shoes are critical. They need to fit well, have good support for the shape of your foot, and cushion you properly under the heel.

It’s important to keep an eye on the condition of your shoes. Always buy new footwear when the cushioning and support start to deteriorate.

4. Invest in orthotics

It’s not always possible to find shoes that perfectly fit your feet. If you struggle with fit, investing in orthotics or insoles is the best solution. You can get heel seats to help cradle your foot and prevent your heel from moving around inside the shoe. Arch supports are ideal for people with high arches and need that extra layer of structure inside the shoe.

5. Plan an increase in training carefully

Going too fast or too far before your body is ready is a sure way to injure yourself. This is especially true for long-distance walkers and runners, or those who want to become long-distance athletes. It’s essential to increase your workouts at regular intervals. Only go to the next level when your body is properly prepared.

6. Stay active

Those who are too sedentary can also suffer from plantar fasciitis. You don’t have to do strenuous exercise, but ensuring that you do 10 to 20 minutes of activity every other day will help prevent such a painful condition.

7. Stretch effectively

Stretching can be both prevention and cure for plantar fasciitis. If you spend a lot of time on your feet, pay special attention to stretching the arches of your feet and Achilles tendons. This will keep the tissue relaxed and prevent a buildup of pressure under your feet.

8. Mix up your activities

If you love high-impact sports, it’s important to give your feet a rest by mixing up activities. Try swimming or cycling for a change, or do yoga or Pilates. Just adding one low-impact workout session weekly can make a major impact on the amount of pressure placed on the plantar fascia.

How to treat plantar fasciitis

If, despite your best efforts, you’ve developed this condition, it’s essential you seek medical advice from a doctor or physiotherapist. There are several treatment methods, but they generally include:

  • Rest – Staying off your feet will allow the inflammation time to go down and the plantar fascia time to heal.
  • Icing and massage – A massage with arnica oil will help reduce inflammation, as will ice packs. Seeing a physiotherapist for massage and manual manipulation is ideal.
  • Stretching – If the muscles and ligaments around the foot and up the leg are tight, they’ll put added pressure on the plantar fascia.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication –Your doctor or physiotherapist will recommend the right drugs and dosage. In extreme cases, you may get a corticosteroid injection in the foot.
  • Surgery – In the worst-case scenario, you may need to have the plantar fascia partially detached from the heel bone. This will release the pressure, but will weaken the foot. It’s the last resort for this condition.

Avoiding plantar fasciitis isn’t always possible, but with this advice you have a better chance of putting your best foot forward.

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