Plantar fasciitis is a painful, but unfortunately, fairly common foot condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Plantar fasciitis happens when the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to the ball of your becomes inflamed. The hallmark sign of plantar fasciitis is a sharp, stabbing pain in the heel, especially during the first steps in the morning or the first steps after you haven't been on your feet in a while. Plantar fasciitis can have many causes. If you're dealing with plantar fasciitis, it's important to understand the activities and habits that can make your heel pain worse and potentially slow down your recovery. Knowing what not to do when you are dealing with plantar fasciitis is just as important as knowing what to do.
1. Don't Not Take Stretching Seriously With Plantar Fasciitis
90-95% of patients overcome plantar fasciitis with conservative treatment methods like stretching, the right pair of shoes, injections, and icing. Stretching is a key component to getting rid of plantar fasciitis. One of the reasons why plantar fasciitis happens is because the posterior chain of the leg (all of the muscles on the back in your leg including the calf muscles and hamstrings) are too tight, along with your Achilles tendon being too tight as well. This lack of flexibility puts too much strain on the plantar fascia when standing, walking, or doing athletic activities, which leads to pain. Stretching helps you gain flexibility and motion in the posterior chain, lowing the stress on your plantar fascia, and relieving pain. Again, the key component, and in my humble option as a foot doctor, the most important part of being able to get rid of your plantar fasciitis without surgery, is daily stretching.
2. Don't Be Too Aggressive With Your Stretching Regimen For Plantar Fasciitis
Stretching the plantar fascia, and leg muscles is key for getting rid of plantar fasciitis, but too much of a good thing is rarely ever a good thing. Even when it comes to stretching for plantar fasciitis. During your stretches, if you feel a sudden, sharp pain, or hear a pop, stop what you are doing, and call your doctor immediately. Gentle stretching exercises that target the calf muscles, hamstrings, Achilles tendon, and plantar fascia are what you should be focusing on. Talk with your foot doctor, or physical therapist to learn about the best ways to stretch to increase flexibility in your foot, and leg, and get rid of your plantar fasciitis.
Sometimes, a foot doctor will prescribe, or give a patient a night splint to help with their plantar fasciitis. This night splint is worn at night, and helps to stretch the plantar fascia as well as the Achilles tendon while the wearer is sleeping. Never overstretch with a night splint, or crank your night splint to a higher setting than your doctor has told you. Night splints are a great tool to treat plantar fasciitis, but if they aren't used in the right way, night splints can lead to tendonitis torn tendons.
3. Don't Get More Than 3 Cortisone Shots In 1 Year For Plantar Fasciitis
Cortisone shots have been used to treat the pain from plantar fasciitis for decades. They do have their place, but like with most things in medicine, there are some risks to getting a cortisone shot. Cortisone shots are great at knocking out the pain from plantar fasciitis quickly. But if your foot doctor or podiatrist isn't getting to the root cause of why you developed plantar fasciitis in the first place, and treating you for that, the pain cycle will start up again.
It's dangerous to get more than 3 cortisone shots for plantar fasciitis in one year because cortisone injections increase your risk or risk of soft tissue damage including tendon or ligament rupture, losing pigment to the skin at the injection site, as well as bone damage. If a foot doctor tries to inject you with more than three cortisone shots in one year, without getting to the root cause of your plantar fasciitis... it's time to consider finding a different doctor.
4. Dont Ignore Your Diet and Lifestyle When Dealing With Plantar Fasciitis
Following a healthy diet and lifestyle supports your body's healing process from plantar fasciitis. Anti-inflammatory foods like seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and whole and unprocessed fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds give your body the essential nutrients it needs to help repair your plantar fascia, therefore decreasing the pain you will have over time. These foods have antioxidants and polyphenols that fight inflammation and promote healing.
Other lifestyle factors like being at a healthy weight, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep can and do aid your body in the repair and healing of your plantar fascia.
5. Place High-Impact Activities On Hold With Plantar Fasciitis
One of the main causes of plantar fasciitis is too much stress or strain on the foot. High-impact activities like running, jumping, and certain sports can put a lot of stress on the plantar fascia, causing more inflammation and pain. If you're an active person or an athlete, it can be so hard to take time away from the activities that you love to do, or that are your livelihood. But it's so important to take a break from these things in the meantime while overcoming your plantar fasciitis pain. A good idea instead is to opt for low-impact exercises like swimming, cycling, or the elliptical which all provide a great workout, but don't put stress on your plantar fascia.
6. Don't Go Barefoot With Plantar Fasciitis
Walking barefoot is a natural and comfortable option, but it can become an issue if you have plantar fasciitis or other foot problems. When you walk without shoes, and also have plantar fasciitis, your plantar fascia is placed under more pressure than when your foot is in a shoe. Shoes also during your plantar fasciitis recovery will give your heel added cushion to make walking or standing less painful. Whether you're at home indoors or outside, always wear shoes when standing or walking when you're dealing with plantar fasciitis. Spending too much time outside of shoes can cause your plantar fasciitis pain to get worse, and slow down your recovery.
7. Don't Not Pay Attention To The Shoes You're Wearing With Plantar Fasciitis
Wearing shoes that don't give your foot the right kind of support during recovery can make your plantar fasciitis pain worse. Shoes that can make your plantar fasciitis worse can have flimsy, thin sole. Also, a shoe that can be folded in half, or bends backward on itself at the arch does not have enough support for someone currently dealing with plantar fasciitis. A heal higher than 2 inches also can make your plantar fasciitis worse. Instead, choose supportive athletic shoes, dress shoes with a low heel, or sandals. Shoes designed for people with plantar fasciitis and other foot problems come with a molded footbed, which acts like an over-the-counter orthotic. Using custom-made orthotic or insole insoles can give extra correction to your foot when walking, and remove extra pressure from your plantar fascia.
8. Don't Stand or Walk For Long Stretches Of Time With Plantar Fasciitis
If you have to stand or walk for long periods of time during the day, it's important to take breaks and rest your feet. Plantar fasciitis pain can get worse from things like walking for miles as a daily workout, walking while exploring a city while on vacation, or walking in a theme park. If possible, take turns between sitting and standing during work hours, and take short walks to stretch your legs and avoid overloading the plantar fascia. Save the miles-long walk for after you've overcome the plantar fasciitis.
9. Don't Ignore The Pain From Plantar Fasciitis
Pain is your body's signal that something is wrong. And once the pain sets in with many musculoskeletal issues, plantar fasciitis included, if it isn't addressed promptly, this pain can become chronic in nature, which is much harder to treat and resolve. Chronic pain can really impact your quality of life, making it much harder, not impossible to participate in activities or sports you once loved, or to even go to work, if you have a job that requires you to stand, walk, or lift heavy objects during your shift. It is important that plantar fasciitis is treated in an appropriate way once it's noticed.
Once you start your treatment for plantar fasciitis, it is important to pay attention to activities that make this pain worse. It is ok to rest and modify your activity during this recovery period. Taking the time to take care of yourself, and your body now will get you back to doing what you love at 100% in no time.
Plantar fasciitis can be a complex foot condition with many treatment options, and treatment methods. For your pain from plantar fasciitis to go away, and stay away, the pain needs to be attacked from many different angles including shoe wear, temporary rest or change in activity, stretching, diet and lifestyle changes, and more. During all of this, remember to keep your self-care as your priority, and follow the guidance of your foot doctor or podiatrist. There is a light at the end of the tunnel if you currently have plantar fasciitis.
Schedule Your Appointment At Direct Podiatry Arizona
Are you dealing with plantar fasciitis, and live in the Phoenix area? My name is Dr. Tarr, I am a board-certified podiatrist, and also the owner of Direct Podiatry Arizona in Tempe. To view my available appointment times, click here.