Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common foot-related problems that can affect any age group and cause severe pain. By severe pain, we mean, even the most basic activity like walking can cause a sharp, stinging pain right through the feet, which may restrict you in many ways.
Plantar Fasciitis is known to be a deep-rooted foot associated deformity and even some basic activities or pressure on the feet can cause long term effects.
Does that mean people with plantar fasciitis are handicapped? Does that mean they can’t lead a normal life? Certainly not. We asked various podiatrists, experts, and patients themselves to source out some first-hand information about plantar fasciitis and how can you prevent or avoid pain due to the condition.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Let us first try to understand what exactly is Plantar Fasciitis and which are the regions of the feet are most affected. According to medical definitions, plantar fasciitis is a collagen degeneration of the plantar fascia ligament.
The plantar fascia is present at the base of the feet that attaches the toes to the heel region and forms the bow like arched structure of the feet. This fascia is responsible for providing support to the arch of the feet and providing shock absorbance.
Inflammation of the plantar fascia and the surrounding associated structures may lead to a condition called plantar fasciitis. Any associated stress on the feet or pressure on the plantar fascia can lead to inflammation. Excessive pressure can also cause the plantar fascia to tear.
Plantar Fasciitis is characterized by a sharp stinging pain on the base of the feet where the plantar fascia is located. When you touch your heel on the ground, the sensitive fascia gets stretched and pressurized and the pain can extend right from the arch to the heel of the feet. Signs of pain may include, a sharp sensation of pain under the feet after long hours of inactivity or excessive activity.
This kind of pain is more common during the mornings. You may walk with a slight limp due to the pain. Walking barefoot can make the pain worse as your feet lacks support.
What Makes You At Risk For Plantar Fasciitis?
If you are wondering how is plantar fasciitis caused and what are the potential risk factors that cause plantar fasciitis, we give you an overview for you to understand your feet health better.
The dynamics of people with flat feet are completely different. They have no arch or the natural bend in their feet at all. This causes the entire feet to come in contact with the ground, and with the entire feet, even the plantar fascia faces ample pressure due to constant rubbing with the ground surface. If the surface is hard and too plain, the pain can get worse.
Usually, people with flat feet who experience pain, tend to bend their toes inwards to reduce the pain and for ease of walking thereby hampering the natural shape of the feet. It also puts extra pressure on the inner foot, thereby straining the plantar fascia. This foot pronation can worsen the condition.
Since the plantar fascia helps in maintaining the natural arch shape of the feet, even a slight change from the normal shape can cause pressure on the ligament. This pain is more common in people who wear heels and their feet are constantly in an arch shape, thereby bearing the pressure and changing the shape of the natural arch.
Also Read: What Are The Side Effects of Wearing High Heels
Hard surfaces technically offer no support to the feet and are not comfortable to walk on. When the feet and the heel comes in contact with such hard surfaces, the fascia has no support and the heels keep touching the hard surface giving you a stinging pricky pain each time you place your feet on the hard floor. Cemented floors and floors with flat tiles can cause pain with prolonged standing and walking on such surfaces.
Also Read: Best Shoes for Walking on Concrete
Badly Fitted Shoes
Be it tight or loose, if your shoes don’t fit you well, it is bound to cause you pain. Tightly fitted shoes don’t allow appropriate stretching of the fascia and make your feet feel cramped up. In the case of loosely fitted shoes, you would have to constantly keep adjusting your feet as they may keep slipping off and also curl your toes to hold the shoes in place.
This affects the natural shape of the feet and in-process affects the plantar fascia as a whole. Especially in the case of women, plantar fasciitis due to ill-fitted shoes is very common as they are already prone to a lot of bone-associated deformities which can be a causative factor for plantar fasciitis.
Also Read: Benefits of Wearing Perfect type & Size of Shoe
If you are overweight or have experienced a sudden weight gain, it would put more pressure on your feet and directly your plantar fascia which causes pain and plantar fasciitis.
Standing for long hours
If your work demands standing for long hours, even the most supportive shoes may sometimes fail to support the feet. Your feet may either feel cramped up and the weight of the entire body is on the feet which is unbearable and thereby causes pain in the fascia.
Lack of activity
Too much activity can cause pain, similarly, too little activity can also cause pain. If your feet are constantly at rest, it causes a shortening of the plantar fascia which makes it less flexible. Regular short levels of activity keep it flexed and make it strong.
Deformed Achilles Tendon
If there are problems with the Achilles Tendon, you may suffer from ankle mobility issues and it becomes difficult to flex your feet completely. This can lead to a tight plantar fascia which follows with Achilles Tendon.
Different leg lengths
If both your feet are differently aligned, then one foot is more pressurized than the other which increases the pressure on the plantar fascia and causes pain in particular feet only. One of your feet has to work harder for shock absorbance and take the ground forces, indirectly affecting the fascia.
How Does Walking Make Plantar Fasciitis Worse?
It is not possible to completely stop walking if you have plantar fasciitis. However, anything in excess can make matters worse. In the case of patients with plantar fasciitis, excessive activity or walking can lead to pain. Here are some aspects that can make walking with plantar fasciitis worse:
- Walking too fast or too much at a time
- Walking on extremely hard surfaces like tiled or cement floors
- Walking with ill-fitted shoes
If your feet lack the appropriate support it requires then it can make even the simplest of things like walking worse.
Preventing More Pain While Walking With Plantar Fasciitis
Life does not come to a standstill with plantar fasciitis. Pain with plantar fasciitis can be prevented by taking into account certain measures. We help you implement some ideas to relieve and prevent pain from coming back due to plantar fasciitis:
Recovery to plantar fasciitis is not easy unless it involves daily stretching and exercise as well as resting your feet appropriately. However, pain relievers are good for instant measures like Ibuprofen, Naproxen Sodium, etc. that can help relieve pain almost instantly if it gets too severe. They belong to the NSAID class of drugs that tend to reduce inflammation and the associated pain.
Stretching and Exercise
Moderate levels of exercise with stretching of the connected calf muscles, Achilles Tendon, and the plantar fascia can reduce pain gradually and help in improving your posture while walking. It improves the blood circulation across the nerves and connected joints which aids in flexing and movement.
Using an athletic tape for plantar fasciitis is a very useful hack. This is also recommended by physical therapists and doctors and is especially implemented by athletes and sportsmen who suffer from fascia and related injuries. You can wound it around the feet in a certain way that supports and keeps the fascia from stretching excessively. This helps in the healing process.
The key to healing plantar fasciitis is providing additional proper support to the feet while walking or any other activity. For support, you can always opt for shoe inserts that either come fitted with your pair of shoes or can be customized and added additionally. They provide adequate support to the bottom of your feet, making sure that the plantar fascia region is not pressurized. Additionally, you can also consider wearing heel cups that are made specifically to support the heel region and keep them cushioned.
Can You Prevent Plantar Fasciitis?
While conditions like Plantar Fasciitis are certainly not welcomed anytime, they can be prevented from occurring if you make certain tweaks in your lifestyle. Here is what can be done to better be safe than sorry:
Maintaining an ideal body weight reduces the pressure on your feet and makes sure that your plantar fascia is not strained. If you are overweight, your legs bear the entire weight of the body causing a direct impact on the fascia. Doing some moderate exercises with control in diet can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and not pressurize your feet directly.
Wearing Supportive & Cushioned Shoes
While you may want to up your style game, certain designs and shoe structures may not match with your feet structure and fail to provide support while walking. Hence, to prevent any leg-based injuries or deformities due to lack of support, always choose to wear supportive shoes with a moderate heel, contoured shapes, and thick soles that provide ample cushioning. Avoid walking barefoot if you want to reduce the chances of acquiring plantar fasciitis.
If you are prone to having plantar fasciitis due to certain leg deformities or if it runs in the family, you may want to start by following some low impact exercise regimens instead of high impact activities. Low impact supported exercises like swimming or cycling are also good to maintain your weight, keep the body in motion and active while not stressing your legs too much.
Replace worn-out shoes
Worn-out shoes are the biggest enemies as they stop supporting after a certain time and your feet do not get the required cushioning. The maximum a shoe can last for is around 8 months to a year depending upon the quality.
Supportive Footwear for Plantar Fasciitis
Living with plantar fasciitis is not easy. The sharp stinging pain can be very distracting and not allow you to do even basic activities like walking or standing up on your feet. However, we have come up with some viable alternatives that help you lead a normal life even with plantar fasciitis.
Slippers for plantar fasciitis are more like slip-on, that are extremely cushioned, easy to wear, and lightweight yet supportive. Mostly, they need to be covered on the top portion to support the feet while the cushioning provides good shock absorbance. A moderate amount of heel is good to go for these slippers while they give a casual and easy-going look to up your style game as well. Check out some unique collections of slippers made for plantar fasciitis here.
There are especially available shoes for plantar fasciitis that focus on two major aspects, support, and comfort for your feet. These shoes come with built-in arch and heel pads or provide ample room for customization as per your feet’ requirements. You can put additional heel cups, arch supports, extra cushioning, etc.
Additionally, the soles of these shoes have to be rigid and should have decent cushioning in the midsole section as that provides shock absorbance and prevents impact in the plantar fascia region. A firm heel counter is also a must as it prevents the abnormal stretching of the plantar fascia. You can look for some well-fitted range of shoes recommended by podiatrists and the APMA for plantar fasciitis here.
Unlike regular flip flops, flip flops for plantar fasciitis have a unique shape and supportive sole design usually made of thick rubber. They generally comprise built-in orthotics that are effective against several types of feet associated deformities including arthritis and plantar fasciitis.
These flip flops also reduce foot fatigue and prevent pronation of the feet. Their high arched structure does not allow your feet to touch the ground and reduces the impact on the plantar fascia. They reduce the overall stress on the heel, the bottom of the feet as well as your knees. Check out an amazing range of flip flops recommended for plantar fasciitis here.
The bottom line
Walking with plantar fasciitis can increase the impact on the fascia ligament thereby making your condition worse. Therefore, one can continue to have a normal lifestyle pace by using supportive footwear and maintaining some regular habits like stretching and mild exercise.
This helps in appropriate stretching of the fascia, does not allow it to tear, and exercises also help you manage weight, not applying too much pressure on the fascia, thereby.
Our article above will help you enlighten yourself completely about plantar fasciitis while we suggest some alternatives to leading a normal pain-free life. Let us know if we could help you through the comments section below.
Dr Kristine has a Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine from New York College of Podiatric Medicine, and currently assists our team of shoe experts by fact-checking and confirming the information presented to the readers. As a podiatrist, she has previously worked with numerous athletes, working professionals, and high to low activity individuals on the impacts of a lifestyle on their feet. She has submitted many research papers on the role of the correct footwear in foot health and how to take adequate care of your feet.
Previously, she worked in a foot clinic attached to a hospital, before she decided to have a private practice in 2012. She has more than 15 years of experience in foot health and has been incredibly gracious in providing her expertise to the Wearsty team! Her patients have ranged from ordinary people ailing with foot problems regarding obesity, old age, and foot stress—to athletes, runners, and workers who have demanding routines.