Spring will soon be here and with the warmer weather comes the urge to get outside, become more active and perhaps even try out a new exercise plan. One of the most common foot injuries that individuals, particularly runners, experience is heel pain stemming from plantar fasciitis. Don’t let this common foot injury sideline your exercise activities and prevent you from reaching your fitness goals.
Plantar Fasciitis Defined
The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue/tendon that runs under the foot. Sometimes when the fascia is overused, it becomes inflamed near the location where it attaches to the heel bone. It is common for plantar fasciitis sufferers to notice their pain level increases with their first steps upon rising in the morning or after sitting for a period of time. Common causes of plantar fasciitis are tight calf muscles, poor quality footwear, carrying extra weight and overpronation (low foot arches).
Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
If you suspect you have plantar fasciitis, within the first 24 or 48 hours you should follow the RICE method of rest, ice, compression and elevation. If your foot is very painful and inflamed you can also visit a physician who can prescribe medication to help relieve your initial symptoms. They might also tape your foot to give it support, which helps to reduce putting strain on the painful area. For stubborn cases, a physician might inject a steroid shot near the affected area as well. Plantar fasciitis tends to linger in some individuals, so in some cases physical therapy might be helpful. Physical therapists can instruct individuals on how to avoid aggravating their condition, as well as showing specific exercises that will help reduce pain and promote healing. Only in about 5% of cases is surgery ever recommended for plantar fasciitis.
There are some things you can do to help avoid getting plantar fasciitis in the first place. Always wear good quality, supportive shoes especially when exercising. Before you begin a workout, be sure to stretch your calf muscles. If you want to start exercising but are carrying a fair amount of excess weight, start with low-impact exercise first and gradually work up to more intensive, high-impact workouts as your weight decreases. Lastly, including a lot of variety in your athletic activities helps to reduce the chance of injury from repetitive use of the fascia.