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Understanding Plantar Fasciitis

What are the common symptoms of plantar fasciitis?

Many plantar fasciitis sufferers feel a deep ache  or sharp pain along the arch of their foot or in the middle of their heel. It is common for first morning steps to cause a sudden strain on the bottom of the foot. This is due to the foot remaining in a contracted position while asleep. The pain can recur after long spells of sitting, though once the area is warmed up, the pain does tend to lessen.

What are common causes of plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis tends to be most common in women and those who are overweight. However, men and woman of all ages, shapes, and sizes can suffer from this painful condition.  Runners and other athletes are often susceptible due to improper form, a lack of stretching, or overuse.
Plantar fasciitis can also be caused by a variety of biomechanical conditions, including flat, high-arched feet and a tight Achilles tendon.  Runners who have a sudden increases in training mileage, wear worn running shoes, or run on hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete increase their risk of developing plantar fasciitis.

What can be done to prevent and treat plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis can be a painful and ongoing problem, which gets worse and more difficult to treat the longer it's present. 
At the first sign of soreness, massage (roll a golf ball under your foot) and apply ice (roll a frozen bottle of water under your foot). Arch support is key, and walking around barefoot or in flimsy shoes can delay recovery.
If pain is present for more than three weeks, see a sports podiatrist. Treatments such as a support brace (like Heelaway), foot taping, cortisone injections, and anti-inflammatories decrease symptoms significantly in about 95 percent of sufferers within six weeks. 
It's important to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon regularly. While it's typical to experience pain in just one foot, massage and stretch both feet. Do it first thing in the morning, and three times during the day.
1. Achilles Tendon Stretch: Stand with your affected foot behind your healthy one. Point the toes of the back foot toward the heel of the front foot, and lean into a wall. Bend the front knee and keep the back knee straight, heel firmly planted on the floor. Hold for a count of 10.
2. Plantar Fascia Stretch: Sit down, and place the affected foot across your knee. Using the hand on your affected side, pull your toes back toward your shin until you feel a stretch in your arch. Run your thumb along your foot--you should feel tension. Hold for a count of 10.

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