Spring is when we start to see flowers and of course patients with plantar fasciitis! The warmer weather brings us all out of our house to clean up our yards, walk around the neighborhood and start our running season. Sometimes people are a little over ambitious with their activities which can lead to a common orthopedic issue called plantar fasciitis.
What is it?
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of tissue that spans from your toes to your heel. Its main job is to give support to your arch. When you take a step the plantar fascia stretches and when you swing your leg through it returns to its resting position. This is called the “Windlass effect”. When there is an increase in standing, walking and running there is a chance the plantar fascia can become inflamed due the repetitive stretching.
Pain in the arch and heel. Pain mostly with weight bearing and especially with the first few steps in the morning.
So how can we prevent plantar fasciitis?
- Always wear proper footwear. If you are going on a long walk leave you flip flops in your beach bag! A good supportive walking or running shoe will be best.
- Monitor your volume and intensity. Whether you are a seasoned runner/power walker or someone just getting into exercise you do not want to increase either volume or intensity too quickly. Example: if you normally run/walk 3miles 3 times a week jumping to 6miles 3 times a week is a dramatic increase in volume which can lead to tissue breakdown.
- Watch your weight. Excess pounds puts extra stress on your plantar fascia
- Massage your arch. A great way to keep the plantar fascia happy is to massage it. An easy way to do this is stand on a lacrosse ball and roll your arch with some pressure for a few minutes.
- Stretch your calves! Tight calves can lead to decreased ankle mobility which places more strain on the plantar fascia.
A lot of the time plantar fasciitis is self limiting and should improve with modifying activities, footwear and proper stretching. If you find that you continue to have pain in your arch or heel then it is time to consult with a physical therapist. Be safe and stay active!!