The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue located at the bottom of the foot that attaches the heel bone to the toes. When the plantar fascia becomes inflamed, it’s referred to as plantar fasciitis. One of the most common causes of foot pain, plantar fascia is also one of the easiest orthopedic conditions to prevent. Here is what you need to know about preventing plantar fasciitis.
Characteristics of the Plantar Fasciitis
Most people describe plantar fasciitis as a painful, stabbing pain that is located close to the heel. The pain is most stunning with the first few steps that we take in the morning when climbing out of bed. The discomfort usually subsides as the day goes on and the feet become more active; however, the pain often becomes acute after standing on hard surfaces for a while, walking barefoot, or when standing up after sitting for a long period of time.
Common Sense Prevention of Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis most commonly occurs when we don’t take precautions to properly support our feet with adequate footwear; it also can occur when we choose to wear no footwear at all, as well as if we have gained a good deal of weight or are overweight to begin with. Some tips to prevent plantar fasciitis include:
- Losing weight. If you’re a bit overweight, losing extra pounds will relieve stress on the plantar fascia and could help you prevent it in the future. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis and are pregnant, wearing good shoes and proper arch supports will provide relief. The pain should subside once you have given birth and start to lose the baby weight.
- Avoid standing for too long. Standing for long periods produces favorable conditions for plantar fasciitis to exist. Naturally, avoiding long periods on your feet will help to avoid the condition. If this proves difficult because of your work requirements, be sure to wear shoes with good support and cushioning. If possible, use a thick standing pad instead of standing on the hard floor, or ask for a high seat to relieve pressure on your feet.
- Try shoe inserts. Firm orthotics or shoe inserts that provide support and added cushioning for arches make a difference, especially for people with flat feet. Your orthopedist can fit you for custom-made orthotics that can slide into nearly any shoe; you can also purchase ready-made orthotics that are targeted to your weight and foot plane.
- Stretch and exercise. Simple stretching exercises that can be performed at your desk, at the dinner table, and even in bed can help prevent plantar fasciitis. A series of pointing and flexing the feet is one way to strengthen the foot; you can also speak to a trainer, physical therapist or occupational therapist about exercises that include exercise bands and light weights.
- Never go barefoot. For those suffering from plantar fasciitis, the pain of taking even a few barefoot steps can be excruciating. To prevent this, always keep some form of footwear handy that provides support and cushioning. If you must wear flip flops, a sports specialty store should offer orthopedic flip flops with lots of cushioning and good arch supports. Consider wearing these flips flops in the shower or in the locker room at the gym so you never go barefoot.
If you notice your feet are starting to feel pain, especially as you take that first step out of bed in the morning, chances are you have developed plantar fasciitis. Even before you make an appointment with your orthopedist, you can start to treat your pain. Begin with special exercises that target and strengthen foot muscles. Be careful, since exercises that are too vigorous can cause damage to the feet. Try the exercises described above, as well as placing both hands on a wall, slightly bending one leg, bringing it forward toward the wall while stretching the other leg out and away from the wall, then alternating.
You will want to make sure you are wearing properly fitting, cushioned shoes with good arch support. Also apply the RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) method. The icing should be deep; for best results freeze a thick plastic bottle of water and roll your arches back and forth to sustain a good deep freeze on the affected area. Your orthopedist will advise how to properly wrap your foot and may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications as well as a foot flexing device to wear while sleeping.
Knowing the causes behind plantar fasciitis is helpful to avoid the condition, but you may be surprised that it can also occur out of no where and without a definitive reason. That said, if you do notice any of the above symptoms, don’t wait! Chronic foot pain should be addressed as quickly as possible. Tarpon Orthopedics will get you back on your feet again. Request an appointment today by calling 972-596-1059.