Wellness Wednesday: Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a real pain in the heel! It commonly causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your first steps in the morning.

The condition involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes – the plantar fascia.

It can come and go throughout your life.

Rapid City Medical Clinic Podiatrist Jennifer Ryder sees a lot of cases when the weather turns nicer, when people are getting motivated to exercise outside after the winter season. “A lot of times what we’ll see is people who have a tight plantar fascia or calf muscle, and then they go and overuse it with their walking or exercise routines.”

Plantar fasciitis is more common with but not exclusive to – athletes. People who are also at-risk include those who work on their feet all day or on hard surfaces, people who are overweight, and pregnant and post-partum women. Half of Ryder’s patients have the condition as a result of an injury.

Most people can recover with conservative treatments, including rest, icing and heating the area and massaging it to reduce tension.

It’s also recommended to stretch your arches and lower legs. Simple home exercises can stretch your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon and calf muscles. “I think for plantar fasciitis, it’s making sure that your calf and the bottom of your foot stretched out. So I have patients do stretching exercises – rolling their foot on a frozen water bottle, a soup can or a tennis ball can be helpful.”

A physical therapist or doctor might recommend wearing a night splint that stretches the calf and the arch of your foot while sleeping. But when those measures aren’t effective, your doctor might recommend cortisone injections, custom orthotics insoles for the shoes and worst-case scenario – surgery.  

Some ways to prevent the condition are to maintain a healthy weight, and if you’re a runner, try a low impact sport. Also, choose supportive shoes that are not worn out. Avoid high heels and don’t go barefoot, especially on hard surfaces.

It’s also recommended to replace your old athletic shoes before they stop supporting and cushioning your feet. If you’re a runner, buy new shoes after about 400 to 500 miles of use.

For more information on plantar fasciitis, click here.

For more Wellness Wednesday stories like this one, click here.

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