How to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis

Posted by Andrew Fleming on

Are You Developing Signs of Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a growing topic that seems to be on a lot of people’s minds, or should I say feet?  There is a good chance that you or someone you know has experienced that crippling pain in the heel of the foot that just does not seem to go away.  Plantar fasciitis can be characterized by the straining of the plantar fascia ligament that supports the arch in your foot.  When these ligaments experience repeated strain it can cause small tears in the plantar fascia that generate pain and swelling in the heel, and now you have a torn plantar fascia.  Some people refer to this pain as heel spur pain. It can be unbearable and conflict with your daily life.  It can occur either suddenly or gradually over time, and without proper prevention techniques one can suffer a long time with the agony of plantar fasciitis.

As humans, we are on our feet all the time and are all at risk for developing this inconvenient ailment, but some factors place specific people at a higher risk than others; for example:

  •        Long hours on your feet
  •        Being overweight
  •        Being pregnant
  •        Specific gait
  •        Ill-fitting or inadequately supported shoes

If your daily routine consists of walking, standing, or running for long periods of time (especially on hard surfaces), being an athlete, or if the insoles of your shoes no longer provide adequate support; you may be prone to developing this awful heel pain, as these are all common causes of plantar fasciitis.  Being overweight or pregnant is another conflicting factor.  The excess weight only causes more strain on those plantar fascia ligaments.  Your gait is the way you walk.  Some people tend to roll their feet inward too much as they stride; this is called excessive pronation and is a common trait of those who develop plantar fasciitis, as well as people who have high arches. Wearing ill-fitting shoes like high heels or boots too often is another risk factor.  Flat sandals can be hazardous as they provide no support to the heel or arch.  Fortunately, we have tons of information and research out there that can be utilized to help prevent the development or persistence of plantar fasciitis and some helpful techniques; such as:

  •         Proper care for your feet and legs
  •        Stretching and safe exercise techniques
  •        Maintain healthy weight
  •        Insoles
  •         Night splints

Preventing Plantar Fasciitis

Proper Care For Your Feet and Legs

Taking proper care of your legs and feet is very important.  When looking for ways on how to prevent plantar fasciitis start with your shoes. Like we said, avoid ill-fitting shoes like high heels or boots.  These shoes shorten your fascia and cause pain.  These are not good shoes for plantar fasciitis.  Find your most supported and cushioned shoes, and make sure they are in good condition. Sneakers with arch support are highly recommended.  It is important to replace your shoes once support is worn out because they are no longer sufficient.  We are on our feet all the time and wearing the right kind of shoes protects your feet and decreases the chance of developing plantar fasciitis.  Be sure to put supportive shoes on immediately getting out of bed to avoid heel pain in the morning.  Walking around in slippers or barefeet may be comfortable, but it does no good in supporting your feet.  Another way to prevent damage is to treat your feet and legs.  Yup, that is right, massages for plantar fasciitis work wonders.  Go get a pedicure or massage your own legs and feet; use a tennis or golf ball on the bottom of your foot in a kneading motion.  This will loosen the plantar fascia ligament and keep the fascia pliable.  Icing your heel and foot after stressful activities will also help to avoid damage to the fascia.  Be sure to find time to relax. Treat plantar fasciitis signs efficiently to be effective.   Kicking up your legs and feet relieves pressure and the break can be soothing.

These proper care practices for your feet and legs are especially important if you are pregnant.  The additional weight of the baby is strenuous on the base of your body.  Since losing weight clearly is not an option, it is best to give your feet the treatment they deserve.

Stretching the Plantar Fascia and Safe Exercise Techniques

Stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis are one of the most beneficial things a person can do, and is a great preventative technique.  It is important to work stretching exercises into your daily routine; especially ones that focus on the plantar fascia, and calf.  Even stretches for the Achilles tendon (connects heel to calf) help to prevent chronic heel pain.  Be sure to emphasis these areas before exercising or playing sports. Stretching keeps vulnerable ligaments safe.  Plantar fasciitis commonly develops in people who are usually more active from a high volume of continued stress and pressure. Someone who enjoys being active may consider strength training for their feet and arches.  Foot exercises for plantar fasciitis like toe scrunches prove beneficial in strengthening the foot and reducing risk of foot and heel pain.  Your doctor can help to develop appropriate stretching techniques, or a little research on the internet can help you customize a routine for yourself.  

Overnight your feet are at complete rest and your ligaments contract and tighten up.  Stretch before you get out of bed in the morning.  Immediately applying pressure by standing on your feet causes a sudden stretch to the ligaments that tear in the fascia; resulting in the nuisance of plantar fasciitis. Try this:

While lying on your back lift one leg straight to the ceiling and wrap a towel over your foot.  Use the towel to pull your foot and toes down towards your head.

This activates a deep stretch in your plantar fascia and calf muscle. Performing this stretch every morning before getting out of bed loosens your ligaments and prepares them for the impact they are about to endure.

Heel pain after exercise is a common symptom; when exercising it is important to practice safe techniques in order to help prevent plantar fasciitis.  If you are walking, running, or performing movements that incorporate landing on your feet, land evenly on the middle of your foot instead of striking down on your heel.  This relaxes the plantar tendon and reduces the impact your heels will face.  A lot of people overlook small details like this, but being consciously aware can spare you a lot of pain.

Maintain Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be used as a defense against plantar fasciitis.  If you are overweight try to terminate unhealthy eating habits, and get on a regular exercise routine.  This will help to shed a few pounds and remove excess weight that is applying strain and stress to the feet.  There is a pad of fatty tissue that exists under your heel bone; it can break down with weight gain, and in turn cause heel pain.  Low impact activities, such as swimming or riding the stationary bike, are the best exercises for plantar fasciitis, and a great way to get moving to shed some pounds.

Insoles and Night Splints

When looking for a prevention or cure for plantar fasciitis, take advantage of orthotic insoles and night splints.  There are many different types of insoles made of different materials that include specific features to meet your individualized needs. You want to be sure to choose the best orthotics for plantar fasciitis.  You may only need a ¾ length insole, or ones filled with specialized silicone gel.  Some are full length and contour to your foot while others are designed with ample arch support.  Shoe insoles for plantar fasciitis tend to have high arch support.  Your doctor can evaluate your gait and help you decide which insoles are most appropriate for you, or do your own research and you can investigate for yourself. Plantar fasciitis shoe inserts or insoles can be conveniently purchased online.  Just remember you may have to trim them for exact fit.  This is simple to do and does not compromise the quality of the insole.  It is a great way to make up for the lack of support in your favorite pair of shoes.  They even design insoles specifically for high heels!

When looking for plantar fasciitis remedies your doctor may also suggest the use of plantar fasciitis splints.  These splints hold the foot with the toes pointed up; providing a gentle stretch applied to the plantar fascia ligament.  The achilles tendon is also protected by the stretch created at the back of the heel, as it is unable to contract and tighten over night.  Plantar fasciitis night splints are pretty popular because they allow for treatment overnight.  When signs of plantar fasciitis are present the night splint can be worn nightly, and then can be slowly reduced as symptoms decrease.

Remember to Prevent and Treat Plantar Fasciitis

Only enforcing one of these preventative techniques will not necessarily keep you free of the plantar fasciitis pains.  It is important to incorporate all the best that you can. Especially, if you are already experiencing pains associated with plantar fasciitis.  The more precautions you take, the better off you will be.  Take proper care of your feet and legs, they carry you everywhere! Stretch and use safe exercising techniques to avoid tears in your fascia.  Be sure to maintain a healthy weight to avoid added stress to your feet, and utilize insoles for extra support.  Once you develop plantar fasciitis it tends to linger and become complex than just pain in the heel of the foot.  Recovery can consist of foot taping, injecting cortisone, and using anti-inflammatories.  Taking advantage of these prevention techniques will make your worries of plantar fasciitis a thing of the past!

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