Put Your Best Foot Forward – Without The Pain
This sharp, stabbing pain could be plantar fasciitis. Studies estimate that about 10 percent of people will suffer from plantar fasciitis in their lifetime.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation or degeneration within the thick specialized ligament in the bottom of the foot – known as the plantar fascia. It is this ligament that supports the arch of the foot, so when it is compromised or inflamed it can be extremely painful.
As we walk, jog, or go up steps, the plantar fascia acts as a shock absorber. While the exact reasons for someone to develop plantar fasciitis may differ, the common causes include overuse, lack of support, or a degeneration or injury in the ligament.
Those with plantar fasciitis may experience heel or arch pain that is generally worse after an activity or after sitting and then standing again.
While it can affect anyone, it commonly affects those who are overweight, those who do not wear supportive shoes, and those who run or stand for long periods of time.
Tips to Reduce Pain
The good news is there are ways to manage, reduce, and even eliminate the pain of plantar fasciitis. Dr. Claire Capobianco, Board Certified Foot and Ankle Specialist, has these suggestions:
When the pain starts, make sure to rest, take a pain reliever like ibuprofen, and apply ice to the painful area.
- Do some exercises. Stand on a stair, with the ball of the foot on the step, and the heel hanging off the step. Gently lower yourself down toward the heel until you feel it stretching your calf and foot muscles.
- Keep it stretched. Freeze a half-full water bottle and roll it under your heel and arch while you are seated. Do this multiple times throughout the day to keep the ligament stretched so it doesn’t get injured during daily activities.
- Buy supportive shoes. Avoid bare feet or wearing just socks around the house. Look for nonflexible sneakers and arch supports.
Maintain Your Weight
By maintaining a healthy weight, your feet and ligaments will have less strain on them. If you are starting a weight loss program by walking, start gradually! Too much walking, not enough rest days, changing your distance or terrain, or pushing it can frequently cause plantar fasciitis, says Dr. Capobianco.
Cross-training is a great way to work on maintaining or losing weight, while limiting the danger of pain from plantar fasciitis. This means switching up your exercise: alternate walking with swimming, biking, or the elliptical.
For most, plantar fasciitis can be controlled without surgery, however it depends how long you have experienced pain and if the pain started due to an injury to the ligament itself. If you have been having pain for longer than three weeks and you have tried the above suggestions, it may be time to see a board certified foot and ankle specialist.