Plantar fasciitis can be debilitating. If you suffer from it, you should already be wearing the right shoes, or at least have comfortable, supportive insoles. You may also have a list of exercises to stretch and strengthen the plantar fascia.
But do you know what not to do with plantar fasciitis? This list is as important as the things you should be doing if you want to be comfortable and pain-free for as long as possible.
In this article, we’ll go through some do’s and don’ts for living with plantar fasciitis to ensure that you live a life free from PF pain, and your feet stay as healthy and strong as possible.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, and it’s usually at its worst with your very first steps in the morning.
Your plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot. It connects your heel bone to your toes.
It plays a vital role in normal foot mechanics when you walk or run, supports the arch of your foot, and acts as a shock absorber while carrying your entire body weight.
While plantar fasciitis develops over time, it can also occur suddenly when the thick band of tissue becomes irritated and inflamed.
At first, the pain may feel like a dull ache and then progress to stabbing pain that you’ll feel with your first few steps in the morning.
The pain usually subsides as you begin to walk around, but it can get worse when you get up from sitting for some time or if you’ve been standing for a long time.
Who Is Likely to Get Plantar Fasciitis?
Anyone can develop plantar fasciitis, but there are several contributing factors that can increase your risk of developing the condition. These include:
Overuse and repetitive stress causes micro-tears in the plantar fascia, which can also lead to the degenerative irritation of the thick band of tissue.
Without allowing your feet proper time to heal, this can cause further tearing and damage, causing intense heel pain.
As you get older, your feet will change size and shape. They tend to flatten and widen as the plantar fascia loses its elasticity.
This places the plantar fascia under excessive pressure, affecting how it distributes weight, absorbs shock, and supports the arch of your foot. This leads to the thick band of tissue becoming irritated, inflamed, and painful.
You may also start experiencing fat pad atrophy, which is when there’s less protective fat tissue between the skin and bone. This reduces how much shock is absorbed, causing friction and strain to be placed on the heel bone, contributing to inflammation and pain.
The bone structure in your feet may make you more susceptible to developing plantar fasciitis, as high arches and flat feet cause abnormal foot mechanics.
This places the plantar fascia, tendons, and ligaments under excessive strain, which can cause the soft tissue to become stretched and inflamed.
In turn, this can lead to you shifting your gait to an unnatural walking pattern. An abnormal walking pattern will cause your body weight to be unevenly distributed, leading to increased pressure on your plantar fascia.
The plantar fascia protects your foot by acting like a shock absorber. But with repetitive movements from running, sports, or jumping, the thick ligament becomes overloaded, causing micro-tears.
This leads to pain and inflammation, causing you to experience a sharp pain at the base of the heel.
To help reduce your risk of developing the condition, make sure that you incorporate plantar fascia stretches into your warm-up and cool-down routines.
Plantar fasciitis can be caused by high-impact activities, but it can also be caused by the activities you do at work.
If you spend hours every day on your feet at work, standing and walking on hard surfaces for long periods of time places your plantar fascia under pressure. This may increase your risk of developing the condition.
Make sure that you’re wearing supportive shoes that provide adequate arch support, cushioning, and shock absorption. You should also take advantage of breaks to sit down and give your feet a rest. If you wear open-toed shoes, make sure your sandals provide excellent support.
Women who wear high heels have a higher chance of developing plantar fasciitis, as the foot is placed under excessive pressure.
If you’re overweight or obese, then you’ll be more likely to develop plantar fasciitis as the additional weight puts more pressure on the foot.
This increases the tension and the amount of pressure that’s placed on the plantar fascia, causing irritation and inflammation.
Certain medical conditions can increase your risk of developing plantar fasciitis. These include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
- Calcaneal stress fracture
- Entrapment of the lateral plantar nerve
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Sever’s disease—calcaneal apophysitis
How Long Does It Take To Heal?
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
Depending on the severity of plantar fasciitis and several other factors like your age, activity level, and weight, it can take between 6 and 18 months for your foot to heal properly.
If you start with conservative treatment as soon as you notice the symptoms, then you may find that your symptoms may improve after a few weeks.
With that being said, if your plantar fasciitis was severe and you had surgery, then it could take between 6 and 10 weeks before you’re able to walk comfortably without help.
It could then take an additional 3 months before your foot is healed enough where you would be able resume strenuous activity or sports.
1. RICE Principle
RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation and can be used throughout the day to help alleviate the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
Rest your feet as much as you can throughout the day, by avoiding activities that aggravate the condition. During the day try to sit with your foot elevated, as this will help to reduce the swelling.
Freeze a bottle of water and then use it to ice your foot for 10 to 20 minutes several times a day. You can also use the frozen bottle to massage your foot by rolling it across your arch while applying comfortable pressure.
This will help to alleviate the pain and provide relief from the symptoms.
2. Invest in Quality Footwear
There are a few factors that you want to keep in mind when you’re getting shoes and you have plantar fasciitis. These include:
- Cushioning under the arch and heel to protect your feet from impact
- Arch support to distribute weight and pressure evenly
- Deep heel cup to stabilize, support, and absorb shock while you walk
- A rocker bottom sole that will help redistribute plantar pressures
3. Apply Athletic Tape
Taping your foot is an effective way to help stabilize your plantar fascia, reduce movement, and stretch when you move.
It prevents any tears from developing in the tissue that can delay your healing while alleviating the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
This is a great option during the day when you need to walk or stand for extended periods of time throughout the day. Not only does this give your plantar fascia a chance to heal, but it also helps prevent further damage.
4. Stretch and Do Low-Impact Exercise
Incorporate stretching and low-impact exercises into your daily routine, as this will alleviate the symptoms, help your feet recover, and prevent the condition from recurring.
Tight muscles in both your calves and feet can aggravate plantar fasciitis, so include the following easy stretches to keep you pain-free:
- Seated plantar fascia stretch
- Wall-facing calf stretch
- Heel raises
- Towel curls
- Marble pickups
For low-impact exercises, you can try swimming, aqua jogging, yoga, cycling, or using the elliptical machine.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you’re overweight, this will put excessive strain on the plantar fascia, overusing it and causing it to become weak. This can lead to inflammation in the plantar fascia and result in pain.
By maintaining a healthy weight, you’ll be reducing the amount of pressure that’s placed on your plantar fascia and help it maintain its elasticity.
1. Wait to Treat Plantar Fasciitis
As soon as you experience any symptoms you should take corrective action quickly.
Make sure that you start with conservative treatments and avoid any activities that aggravate the condition for a few days. Be consistent with the conservative treatment, this will allow your feet to heal properly
You can use over-the-counter pain medications to alleviate pain and reduce swelling.
If the intensity of the pain increases or you suspect that the arch of your foot may be damaged, then seek medical attention immediately.
2. Push Through Pain
Don’t try and push through pain as this can cause further micro-tears to the plantar fascia, which can be further damaged.
Fortunately, in most cases, a couple of weeks of reduced activity will allow your plantar fascia to heal properly.
However, If you continue to walk, run, or jump, it could cause increased tearing leading to your arch flattening or even rupturing the plantar fascia.
This would change the treatment method as surgery may be required, and it would also increase the required time for healing.
You should also avoid walking around in flat shoes or barefoot when you have symptoms of plantar fasciitis, as this can aggravate the condition.
3. Sit or Stand for Long Periods
It can be difficult while you’re working to control how often and how long you stand or sit.
But if you can, and you have enough space, try to change how you sit while you’re working. Get up and walk around for 5 minutes every 60 to 90 minutes, this will help reduce the discomfort of plantar fasciitis.
If you spend most of your day standing, try and take frequent breaks where you can sit down or move around. Not only will this help alleviate the symptoms of plantar fasciitis, but it will also help prevent problems in your back, hip, and knees.