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Plantar Fasciitis Insoles [Ultimate Guide + Infographic]

by Jessica Hegg February 15, 2017

plantar fasciitis infographic

Many people are reluctant to take that first step when getting out of the bed in the morning, but if you suffer from plantar fasciitis...

You have a whole-nother painful reason to delay the start of your day.

I know you’ve come to know and anticipate that jarring pain when you stand after a prolonged period of rest, but you're not alone!

It is estimated that plantar fasciitis will affect 1 in 10 people at some point during their lifetime and  80% of heel pain is due to plantar fasciitis

(remember to always check with your doctor for a definitive diagnosis)

Luckily, you don’t have to suffer from heel pain forever. With the use of plantar fasciitis insoles and these manageable steps, you can start eliminating your heel pain today!

Make Sure Your “Boots” Are Made for Walking

There are some things you just can’t prevent, such as aging, or the long-term damage that’s already done. But there is something you can do to combat, and prevent, the reoccurrence or onset of plantar fasciitis. Usually, one of the first recommendations to decrease heel and foot pain is a good orthotic insole.

How do I determine the right size?

The majority of insoles run true to shoe size, so select your normal shoe size.  Check the size once you receive your insoles, before placing them inside your shoes. Ensure that the heel end fits securely and check that your foot is completely covered by the insole. (You may need to trim your insoles if they are too large)

Helpful Tip:
Remove the existing insole from your shoe.  This can be used as a guide for sizing and trimming your orthotics to proper fit.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Insoles:

Utilizing improper orthotics can actually worsen or cause more pain.  It is important to evaluate all aspects of your condition to ensure you get the right plantar fasciitis insoles the first time around.

  • Your Heel

Consider your heel as the hub. It facilitates the foot's movements and is where the heel bone and ankle connect your calf muscles. The heel is ultimately the most vulnerable location for pain from plantar fasciitis. It's important to pay attention to what your heel needs from an insole.

  • Specific Gait

Your gait is defined as... the stress placed on the plantar fascia muscle in the foot is a direct result of one’s gait or way or walking and running.

When walking as your foot hits the ground, its primary function is to absorb the shock of the impact as weight is transferred from the heel to the forefoot. 

Your gait is typically characterized by pronation which is; the way the foot naturally roles inward when walking and running which accommodates for the contour of the ground. 

Depending on the underlying issue with your specific gait, be it lack of motion control and stability when walking, or an issue with the pronation of the foot, you may require a different type of insole.

Overpronation- overpronation

Often described in people as having “flat feet,” overpronation is the exaggerated inward rotation of the foot when normal walking. Supportive and specifically structured insoles help treat overpronation and prevent pain and injury

 

 

 

 

Underpronation- underpronation

Also known as supination, underpronation is the term used when the foot rolls outward during normal walking (instead of inwards). Underpronators want to look for supportive insoles that cushion against impact injuries.

 

 

 

neutral pronation Neutral-

A neutral gait incorporates proper pronation during normal walking and an even distribution of weight from the front of the foot. Those with neutral typically will not experience the pain or inflammation that requires insole support.

 

 

 

  • Arch Support

Your arch is the curve of your foot that begins at the ball and extends to the heel and gives you stability.  You never want your foot to flatten as you step. Lack of proper arch support will increase pressure to your plantar fascia and increase pains.

Evaluate the bottom of your foot and identify your arch type to decide on the level of support you will need.

normal arch

 

Normal Arch-

The most common kind of arch, the normal foot arch promotes proper foot toground contact on the outside of your heel which then pronates to absorb the shock of the impact and evenly support your body weight.

  

 

 

high arch

High Arch-

A high foot arch reflects constantunderpronation where the foot meets the ground at an increased angle, distributing the weight load to the outside of your foot and leaving shock absorption primarily to the lower leg

 

 

 

 

flat arch

Flat Arch-

A flat arch in your foot often indicates the inward collapsing of your foot due to overpronation. As your body transfers weight to the inner edge of your foot instead of the ball when walking, this adds stress to knees, legs and ankles and puts you at a higher risk for injury.

 

 

 

  • Customization

No two feet are the same and some insoles may work better for others. Keep this in mind! Consider what you will be doing in your insoles and what level of activity will you be performing. You may require extra stabilization or more motion control. Certain activities will agitate plantar fasciitis in different locations.

Don't get discouraged if a pair doesn't seem to provide much relief.  Just reevaluate, talk with your doctor, and try another kind :) 

  • Materials

Not all plantar fasciitis insoles are made of the same material and you may find oneworks better for you than another.  Some of the most common materials are foam, plastic, or gel. 

Foam Insoles-  Lightweight memory foam or rebound foam improves the cushion and comfort of a plantar fasciitis insole by stabilizing foot alignment, allowing for a custom match to your foot, and promoting air circulation (to prevent odor)

Plastic Insoles-  Plastic plantar fasciitis insoles (or a combination of plastic with rubber or felt) help relieve foot pain with soft arch support and structured heel cups. Lightweight construction promotes side to side stability and improved motion control.

Gel Insoles-  Superior shock absorption is a big plus of plantar fasciitis insoles made with gel (like Polyurethane Gel), providing comfort, arch support, and keeping feet cool and dry (to avoid sweating and odor)

How Will I know When to Replace my Insoles?

The longevity of your insoles is largely impacted by usage.  What is your activity level and how often are you using your insoles? In time, your orthotics will lose their original support and start to wear.  Performance is the best way to judge the condition of your insoles. Pain and lack of support are your best indicators. 

Can I Use Insoles Even if I Don't Suffer from Plantar Fasciitis?

Of course! You don't have to have plantar fasciitis to use insoles. There is nothing to lose by slipping a little extra support into your shoes. Using plantar fasciitis insoles [when you're not experiencing related pains] is an awesome prevention tactic!

The Power of Plantar Fasciitis Insoles:

  • Can reduce the stress and stretch the plantar fascia ligament attached to the heel bone causing your discomfort.
  • Insoles can be used in almost any type of shoe
  • An insole will help spread and absorb the shock when you plant your foot.
  • They will ease the pressure from your heel, and the overall stress on your feet, ankles, and knees.
  • Correct abnormal functioning of the foot
  • Far more supportive than insoles included in your shoes
  • Ability to work over time and provide instant relief
  • Deep heel cups give added shock absorption and reduce stress applied to foot, knees, and ankles
  • You can choose insoles specifically designed to decrease the pain of plantar fasciitis, and other foot pain that can result in heel and back pain.
  • Plantar fasciitis insoles with arch support and heel cushion help with heel pain related to pronation. (I.e.: Your feet roll inward too much.)
  • Save you money! Replace shoes less frequently by replacing just the insoles

    Why You Should Try Insoles to Relieve Pain...

    best plantar fasciitis insoles

    There are reasons why plantar fasciitis insoles are recommended so frequently at the first signs of symptoms. With various styles and ample availability...success is easy to find!

    Orthotics have proven to... 

    1. Reduce friction, heat, and perspiration, providing you with support and all day comfort.
    2. Decrease foot pain significantly after a few weeks, and improve your quality of life.
    3. Available for relatively inexpensive cost
    4. Custom-fit orthotics can be prescribed to meet specific needs ($$$)
    5. Insoles have versatile fit and arch support, they can fit, or be trimmed, to be inserted comfortably into a variety of shoe styles.
    6. Using plantar fasciitis insoles when your original insoles are no longer provide adequate support is a lot more affordable than having to buy new shoes

    You’ve got nothing to lose! ... except your heel pain.

    Eliminating the 3 Main Concerns of Plantar Fasciitis Insoles

    1. Price

    Yes, orthotics can get expensive.  Custom or prescribed insoles will cost you the most, but there are cheaper alternatives available. Research online what options are available, you might even find that an inexpensive OTC pair works better!

    2. Durability

    Insoles experience constant pressure and are known to need replacing after some time.  Try purchasing a pair for the pairs of shoes you wear most often.  You won't have to move the insoles from shoe to shoe and you'll reduce the wear.

    3. Break-In Period

    Insoles may be painful to wear at first and, depending on support and materials, some may take longer to break in. This may be due to the hardness of the insole or the sensitivity of your feet. With time the insoles should become more comfortable, but discontinue use and talk to your doctor if pain ultimately worsens.

    Prescription vs. Over-the-Counter Orthotics

    -Cost 

    Prescription: typically run from $200-$800 

    OTC:cost,on average, $30 per pair

    -Lifespan

    Prescription: can last up to 3 years

    OTC: last about 6 months

    -Materials 

    Prescription: commonly constructed from synthetic materials, cork, or leather

    (The materials used by a doctor to create insoles are often more durable and tend to outlast OTC designs)

    OTC: most designs are made from foam, plastic, or gel

    -Performance 

    Many reports on which type is better, have conflicting results and there is no guarantee that prescribed orthotics will out-perform over-the-counter insoles. Success boils down to trial-and-error.

    The Facts Behind Plantar Fasciitis

    The exact cause is unknown

    Plantar fasciitis is believed to develop from small tears in the plantar fascia; which is the ligament attached to the heel bone. The repeated strain on this ligament can be aggravated from the way you walk, the length of time you spend standing, and the type of footwear you wear. This causes the ligament to become swollen and inflamed.

    Symptoms:

    Your physician can usually diagnose plantar fasciitis by discussing your signs and symptoms. He’ll want to know where the pain is located, and what time of day you experience the most discomfort.
    A few indicators include:
      • You experience stiffness and pain in the morning that improves after a few steps, but then the pain and discomfort may worsen as the day progresses.
      • You experience pain when you start to exercise. This is relieved as you progress but then returns once you finish exercising.
      • Your pain increases when you climb steps or raise up on your toes.
      • You have pain in your heels after standing for long periods of time.
      • Consult your physician immediately if you experience heel pain with fever, redness or warmth, or numbness or tingling in your heel.

      Risk Factors:

      Many factors can increase your chances of developing Plantar Fasciitis, are you at risk?
        • It usually occurs in middle-aged people, but can occur in younger people who spend a lot of time on their feet (I.e.: athletes and soldiers).
        • If you are overweight, you are at an increased risk.
        • If you wear worn out, or ill-fitting shoes
        • If your calf muscles are tight
        • If you walk with excessive pronation

        You Don’t Have to Take This Heel Pain Sitting Down

        As much as you’d like to ignore it, your heel pain won’t go away if you don’t address it.

        • You might end up unintentionally changing the way you walk to alleviate the pain and this will result in more damage.
        • The heel pain will get worse to the point that you may have to eliminate some activities.
        • If your job requires long periods of standing, you could risk exacerbating thepain, or losing work time.
        • A heel spur could form.

        Tips for Giving Heel Pain the Boot:

        insoles and rubber shoes

        Your doctor can provide appropriate stretching exercises once he has examined your feet and observed the way you stand and walk. Your physician may require an X-ray, or ultrasound, if he feels the need to rule out other problems with your foot such as a stress fracture, infection, or any other serious problem. If you have foot pain at night, it may be a different problem such as tarsal tunnel syndrome or arthritis.

        1. Do stretching exercises several times a day for your toes and calf.
        2. Wear the correct footwear. Pick shoes with good arch support and a cushioned sole.
        3. Put on supportive shoes as soon as you get out of bed.
        4. Even if only one foot hurts, you should use the insoles in both shoes.
        5. Ice your heel to reduce pain and swelling, or use an over-the-counter pain reliever.
        6. Avoid using heat the first few days, for that can make it worse.
        7. Give your feet a rest as much as possible.
        8. If your heel pain isn’t relieved with initial efforts, your physician could suggest wearing night splints. Night splints will hold your foot at a 90-degree angle to apply a gentle stretch to the plantar fascia.
        9. Your physician could also recommend a steroid shot in your heel for short-term pain relief.

        plantar fasciitis infographic

        Kick Up Your Heels to This Good News!

        Only about 5 out of 100 people require surgery for plantar fasciitis. With proper treatment, you should have less pain over a few weeks, but it may take some time to go awaycompletely..

        Don’t retire your dancing shoes just yet—most people can completely recover from plantar fasciitis within 6 to 12 months.

        Jessica Hegg
        Jessica Hegg


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