Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick ligament that runs across the bottom of your foot. This thick band of tissue acts like a shock-absorbing bowstring and supports your foot arch. However, great stress and tension can cause small tears in the ligament. Repetitive tearing or stretching can result in inflammation.For some people, tight ligaments can be caused by increasing physical activities too fast, improper stretching, or skipping warm-ups. The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Heel pain that is usually worse in the morning
- Tightness in the Achilles tendon or calf
- Weakness in the arch or ankle
- Swelling or tenderness
Plantar fasciitis is usually an overuse injury. Some factors that can increase the risk of developing this condition are:
- High arches
- Flat feet
- Under or over pronating
- Being overweight
- Tight calves
- Wearing high heels
- Increasing running mileage drastically
The severity of plantar fasciitis varies from one person to another. Some athletes with plantar fasciitis can continue their training while treating the problem. In some cases, walking or running can cause more damage to the plantar fascia and aggravates the condition. If you are experiencing pain that makes walking difficult, it is best to stop any vigorous activities and take enough rest for several days or weeks before running again.See a sports podiatrist if the pain is present for more than two or three weeks. In addition to reviewing your current symptoms, your doctor may also recommend imaging tests for accurate diagnosis.
How to Prevent and Treat Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis can be frustrating as it prevents you from enjoying your outdoor activities. This condition may also get worse and become more difficult to manage. You can avoid plantar fasciitis by wearing right running shoes that provide plenty of arch and heel support. You will also find shoes specifically designed for this foot problem. If have bouts of plantar fasciitis, take a few days off and focus on performing stretching exercises. Invest in a good pair of shoes and inserts. Once you feel better, you can start to incorporate running into your routine but at a minimum level.
Warm Up Before You Go
It is vital to have a good warm-up before you run. Warming up will increase not just your heart rate but also the elasticity of your ligaments and tendons. It will also improve your joints’ range of motions. You can try lunges, leg swings, squats, calf raises, and ankle circles. Make sure that you also flex and point your toes to pay special attention to your plantar fascia, calves, and ankles during your warm up.
Ice the Area after Workouts
If you get heel pain after a long run, consider icing your feet for about 10 to 15 minutes. Follow this treatment three or four times to prevent or reduce the swelling. You can submerge your feet in a bucket filled with ice water or hold a bag of frozen veggies. Once you’re done, elevate your feet and rest. Wear night splints to stretch your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.
Simple Stretches for Plantar Fasciitis
While it is common to experience heel pain in just one foot, it is important to stretch and massage both feet. Here are some exercises to help treat plantar fasciitis.
- Plantar Fascia Stretch. To do this, sit down and place your affected foot on the opposite knee. Pull your toes back gently toward your shin to stretch your arch. Run your thumb along the bottom of your foot to feel the tension. Hold this position for 10 seconds and release.
- Achilles Tendon Stretch. To stretch your Achilles tendon, stand with your affected foot behind the other one. Point the toes of your affected foot toward the heel of your front foot. Lean into a wall and bend your front knee. Keep your back knee straight. Hold your position for 10 seconds and release.
You can also visit a physical therapist for assistance on many techniques to stretch your plantar fascia.
Plantar fasciitis causes sharp, stabbing, and agonizing pain, but do not let foot issues keep you off the road. If ignored, it will cause setbacks in your training and may lead to severe injuries. Before treating yourself, it is best to get an accurate diagnosis so you can apply proper treatment. If you have mild plantar fasciitis, give extra care to your feet and reduce the intensity of your workouts.