Plantar fasciitis - a condition that causes pain in the bottom of the heel - is one of the most common orthopedic ailments in the world, affecting around 2 million patients every year. However, despite the fact that it affects so many, plantar fasciitis is preventable.
At Advanced Spinal Care, we want to empower our patients with preventative measures against plantar fasciitis, and to help them identify the signs early in order to seek treatment before the pain becomes severe. Here are a few ways you can prevent and identify plantar fasciitis in your feet:
Understand the Risk Factors
In order to prevent and identify plantar fasciitis, it’s important to have an understanding of the condition. Plantar fasciitis occurs when a large band of tissue on the bottom of your foot which supports your arch (the plantar fascia) is chronically inflamed. Although foot specialists have yet to pinpoint an exact cause for plantar fasciitis, there are a few variables that can put you at a greater risk for the condition. These factors include:
- Being a woman
- Being overweight
- Having certain types of arthritis, especially when both feet are involved
- Having a naturally tight Achilles tendon
- Having an occupation that requires you to be constantly on your feet
- Running or participating in other foot-heavy athletic activities often
Being aware of your risk factors is the first step to making careful lifestyle changes in order to prevent the onset of plantar fasciitis in the first place.
Choose Appropriate Footwear
Consistently wearing shoes that lack support for your arches can eventually lead to the same inflammation of the plantar fascia which causes plantar fasciitis. If you’re concerned about your risks for plantar fasciitis (or, better yet, you wish to support your feet in general), consider buying shoes that have:
- Padding for the front of the foot.
- A flexible yet firm midsole.
- Plenty of support for your arches.
If you’re not sure where to find the appropriate footwear, consult with your specialist or check out this list of brands known to be helpful in plantar fasciitis prevention. If you’re still in pain after a change of shoes, or these brands are inaccessible to you, you may also consider a removable insole to help support your feet.
Perform Preventative Exercises
Certain exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles in your feet can also help you prevent plantar fasciitis. If being a runner or other foot-heavy athlete is among your risk factors, it’s especially important for you to practice these exercises on a regular basis. Some of the most helpful foot exercises include:
- Doming, which exercises the tibialis posterior muscle in the calf, foot and arch.
- Calf raises, which strengthen the tendons in your heels and calves to better support your arch.
- Toe spread and squeeze, which exercises the muscles in your foot that support your arch.
- Step stretches, which make your Achilles tendons and calves more flexible to avoid them tightening and overloading your arch.
If you need help or guidance with these exercises, consider consulting with a physical therapist or trainer to ensure you’re performing them correctly.
Know Your Symptoms & Act Quickly
Preventative measures are always helpful, but if you’re already experiencing pain in your feet, it becomes more important to identify symptoms of plantar fasciitis and consult your doctor as quickly as possible. In cases of plantar fasciitis, pain will occur on the bottom of your heel, usually more toward the inside of your foot. The pain will usually occur more often when you take a step or try to walk, and it may be more severe first thing in the morning and fade as you continue to walk around. Most patients describe pain due to plantar fasciitis as sharp, like stepping on a pebble, or as a dull throbbing or aching.
Plantar fasciitis is common and easily treatable. However, if left untreated, it can result in tears, ruptures, bone spurs, and additional pain in your hips, knees, and back. If you believe you’re experiencing symptoms of plantar fasciitis, don’t wait to consult with your specialist.
If you’re struggling with pain due to plantar fasciitis, the team at Advanced Spinal Care can help develop a non-invasive treatment plan to get you back on your feet. Request an appointment with us today for a consultation at one of our offices. We serve patients out of Cambridge and Coshocton, Ohio.