Plantar fasciitis and how to treat it
Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of chronic heel pain, and one of the more common sports injuries affecting runners and sprinters. In fact, anybody else that stands on their feet all day long (shop assistants or waiters, for example) can find themselves at risk for heel pain.
At least someone you know may experience plantar fasciitis in their lifetime – that’s how common it is – so it’s important to know how to look after your feet.
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a connective tissue that extends from your ligament in your heel bone, along the sole of your foot. The plantar is designed to support your arch, so overstraining it – whether by strenuous exercise, by lack of rest, or by wearing shoes without support – can cause inflammation, a tear or break it down. This results in heel pain.
How can I tell if I have plantar fasciitis?
- You feel pain under the heel, dull or sharp
- You feel swelling in your mid-heel
- Your foot sole will ache and feel stiff after a long time without movement on your feet
You might notice the pain getting worse, or your foot heel feels more tender, in the morning (right when you take your first step), after standing or sitting down for a long period, or after (not during) intense exercise.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
What makes it feel this way? It’s a common sports injury, with sprinters, joggers, hikers being more prone to heel pain than others.
But it’s not just athletes at risk: there are numerous factors that can increase your likelihood of getting plantar fasciitis.
Some common causes of plantar fasciitis
- Your feet are flat, you have high foot arches or weak foot arch muscles
- Your footwear is not supportive enough, especially if you’re an athlete
- You are on your feet all day long
- You are overweight, or carrying more weight than normal (such as pregnancy), resulting in your feet feeling more strain and being inflamed
How do you treat heel pain?
If you suspect you are suffering from plantar fasciitis, there are things you can do to help relieve the pain and heal your foot. Make sure you treat it – 90% of Australians with plantar fasciitis improve within two months. If plantar fasciitis goes untreated long enough, it can lead to skeletal changes such as a heel spur.
As always, prevention is the best cure. Maintain a healthy weight to minimise the stress you place on your feet and wear supportive shoes (or, introduce support insoles to bring in the cushioning, shock absorption and arch support that your feet need).
Ease tired feet with orthotic insoles
Supportive footwear – such as running shoes with a stiff heel counter and mid-sole support – are definitely recommended. However, if the problem is chronic, sports podiatrists recommend orthotics to help support your feet. Orthidic insoles help by cushioning your steps and reducing the impact your inflamed tissue feels.
Common, inexpensive, and non-invasive: using orthotic insoles is very effective. Use orthotic to correct poor foot biomechanics and you can reduce the likelihood of plantar fasciitis being chronic.
Rest is important. But it’s not practical to avoid standing and walking altogether. In fact, you might notice your walk changing slightly to account for the pain – an action you should be aware of as it may lead to even more knock-on problems. Leg, hip, or ankle pain can hamper a physical and active life.
That’s not to say you should stop exercising. Focus on exercise that is less strenuous on your heel and opt for low-impact activities such as swimming to keep active.
Keep your foot compressed
Keep your foot wrapped when you’re up and about. Compression sleeves will help you to reduce swelling and pain in the heel and arch area which aids in tissue repair.
Stretch it out
Make sure to stretch your feet right after you wake up and before you stand up. Stretching can help improve physical function and reduce your pain. It’s especially important after working out, wearing high heels, or long periods spent on your feet.
Pain relief medications such as ibuprofen paracetamol – or any anti-inflammatory medication – will help with the swelling around your heel. That being said, don’t expect this to work its magic if you keep standing on your feet all day with little rest for the pain. Make sure those pain meds are taken in conjunction with some much-need rest.
While you’re resting, apply ice to help with the inflammation and keep off your feet.
Support yourself with the Lightfeet Insole
The Lightfeet Support Insole is specifically designed to help with plantar: the insert in your shoe will align the biomechanical forces of your standing and walking to reduce tissue stress. It will improve the alignment of your joints, bones, muscles and tendons and work to reduce the recurrence of heel pain. Quick, inexpensive and effective – that’s how you look after your feet.
The brand new Lightfeet SUPPORT insole offers unparalleled support, fit and comfort.
Designed by Australian Podiatrists to improve the comfort and fit of your shoes.
– Ideal for customers who roll-in (pronate) excessively during foot contact.
– Superior shock absorbing foam to help cushion impact.
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– 2mm Speed foam top layer offers shock absorption, energy return, moisture wicking, anti-bacterial, breathability, anti-odour and a customised fit.
– Mesh top cover provides traction for quick lateral movements.
– Designed by Australian Sports Podiatrists
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