If you have plantar fasciitis, you’ve probably been sidelined by the sharp, stabbing heel pain typically caused by this ailment. This relatively common orthopedic condition can be most intense when you first step out of bed in the morning and when you stand after sitting for a long period.
The heel stiffness and pain you experience with plantar fasciitis are caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is a thick ligament that supports your arch. This band of connective tissue runs from your heel to your toes under your foot.
The plantar fascia is similar to a shock absorber for your foot. It also supports your arch when you walk.
This condition develops as a result of wear and tear on the plantar fascia, and certain activities can worsen symptoms. In this blog, orthopedic surgeon Robert Douglas Bostick III, MD, of Metairie Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Metairie, Louisiana, discusses habits that can worsen symptoms, and he also discusses how the condition can be treated.
Habits that can worsen plantar fasciitis
If you have plantar fasciitis, you could be doing things to make it worse. And if you don’t have the condition, you could be doing things to increase your risk of developing it. Here are some of them:
Being overweight can increase your risk of developing many conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even plantar fasciitis. There’s a direct correlation between having a high body mass index (BMI) — which is a measurement of your body weight to height — and developing foot problems, such as plantar fasciitis.
Being overweight exerts more pressure and strain on the plantar fascia than having a normal body weight. Carrying just one pound more than your ideal weight can increase the pressure on your knees, hips, and ankles by up to eight pounds. And climbing a flight of stairs can increase the pressure 4-6 times.
Sitting or standing for long periods
If sitting or standing for long periods is part of your work routine or daily activities, you’re contributing to the wear and tear on your plantar fascia. Standing on hard, unnatural surfaces, such as asphalt or concrete, can worsen the effect.
To help offset remaining in one position for long periods, regularly take breaks to sit down if you stand for long periods, and take time to stand up if you sit for long periods.
Furthermore, if you must stand, try to avoid standing in the same position for the entire time you’re on your feet.
Wearing inappropriate shoes
Wearing flat shoes, such as flip-flops, or going barefoot may be convenient, but these practices can contribute to the onset of plantar fasciitis. When you exert pressure on your feet without proper arch support or padding, you can put too much stress on your plantar fascia.
Wearing shoes that are too tight or shoes that raise your heel high above your toes may also aggravate the condition. This type of footwear doesn’t allow your foot to take its natural position and may increase pressure on sensitive areas, such as the plantar fascia.
Runners are more vulnerable to developing plantar fasciitis because of the constant pounding of their feet against hard surfaces. If you’re a runner, ignoring the need for supportive shoes can exaggerate symptoms. Wearing running shoes after they’ve lost their optimal support can also worsen the condition.
Pushing through pain and discomfort
Pain is your body’s method of indicating that something is wrong. Ignoring these cues can increase your risk of developing plantar fasciitis and lead to increased tearing and eventual rupture.
Ignoring heel pain can force you to compensate by standing in unnatural positions. The result can put more stress on your back, hip, knees, and feet. If your feet or ankles hurt, rest them.
Neglecting the need to stretch and strengthen
Stretching before you work out or perform other activities can help prevent the onset of plantar fasciitis. Loosening the plantar fascia is one of the best ways to prevent tearing it.
Furthermore, strengthening your calves, Achilles tendon, and the bottom of your foot can also benefit your plantar fascia. Strengthening these areas can provide support so your foot remains stabilized, which can help you prevent plantar fasciitis from developing or returning.
Treating plantar fasciitis
Getting a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis as early as possible can improve your chances of reducing symptoms and allowing your foot to heal. Depending on your symptoms, we may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
- Rest and activity modification
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Icing the bottom of your foot
- Supportive orthotics
- Crutches or walking boot
- Physical therapy
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy
- Steroid injection
If conservative treatments don’t provide relief, you may benefit from foot surgery to reduce symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
To learn more about preventing or treating plantar fasciitis, book an appointment online or over the phone with Metairie Orthopedics & Sports Medicine today.