In simple terms, plantar fasciitis can be described as a medical condition, in which the plantar fascia suffers from inflammation. Today, there is a wealth of information on this condition, with more and more researchers trying to come up with effective treatment solutions. Unfortunately, a lot of people fail to understand that, when it comes to such conditions, prevention is the key. In this article, we will discuss about the best ways to prevent the appearance of plantar fasciitis and maintain an excellent state of health.
Plantar fasciitis and its multitude of causes
The condition does not appear over night; as the plantar fascia is subjected to a lot of physical stress, it responds with inflammation and pain. One has difficulty taking the first steps in the morning, with the level of functionality improving as the day continues. In time, the body tries to compensate for the existent problems, such as micro-tears, by bringing more calcium into the area. Thus, bone spurs form and complicate the condition.
As you are probably aware, there are a number of causes that can lead to the appearance of plantar fasciitis. Wearing inadequate or worn out shoes, having low/high arches or spending too much time on your feet are just a few examples. It has been demonstrated that having tight calves or a stiff Achilles tendon can lead to plantar fasciitis as well, with the attachment of the fascia to the bone weakening with the passing of time. As you will see below, obesity remains one of the main causes of this condition and, clearly, one of the easiest ones to work on (as prevention).
General tips on plantar fasciitis prevention
Benjamin Franklin used to say that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. That is valid to the present day and especially when it comes to such conditions. It is far easier to prevent plantar fasciitis rather than try and treat it.
Here are a number of general tips on the measures you can take, in order to prevent plantar fasciitis:
• If you engage in any sport, it is recommended to warm up first, with a couple of mild stretches (otherwise, too much stress will be placed on the plantar fascia)
• Tight-fitting or worn out shoes can lead to plantar fasciitis, causing a number of upsetting symptoms. It is for the best to wear comfortable shoes, changing them on a regular basis. Always go for the shoes that provide adequate arch support and ensure the necessary cushioning for the heel area.
• Visit a physical therapist and ask about the stretches that are recommended for the tight Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia.
• If you have engaged in physical activities, which have placed a lot of stress on the plantar fascia, it is recommended to perform an ice massage in the respective area (to reduce the tension on the plantar fascia and prevent its subsequent inflammation).
• Talk to your podiatrist about the possibility of wearing custom-made orthotics. These are generally recommended for those who have high-arches, providing the necessary support and ensuring that the plantar fascia is in a relaxed position.
Self-care measures can help you prevent plantar fasciitis as well
Relaxation of calf muscles
One of the most important self-care measures that you can consider is relaxation. You need to educate yourself and learn how to relax your calf muscles, so as to avoid placing extra tension on the plantar tendon.
Avoid heel striking
Heel striking is one of the most common causes of plantar fasciitis. If you want to prevent this condition, you need to switch to the midfoot strike, making sure that the plantar fascia is relaxed at all times.
Use gravity to your advantage
If you like to run or jog, it is recommended to avoid pulling yourself forward, using your legs. Instead, use gravity to your advantage and try to maintain a correct position during such physical activities.
In the situation that you have to spend a lot of time behind a desk, you can help your plantar fascia by bringing your toes towards the knees. This is called Dorsiflexion and it is one of the best ways to stretch your calf muscles and reduces the tension on the plantar fascia.
Rolling a tennis ball
Whenever you have a couple of free minutes, take off your shoes and roll a tennis ball, using your feet. Go back and forth, as this simple self-care measure will relax your plantar fascia.
A healthy weight is the best way to prevent plantar fasciitis
When discussing the most common causes of plantar fasciitis, many specialists draw attention to the problem of obesity. A study undertaken in 2014, on the subject of plantar fasciitis and published in The Permanente Journal, presented a 48-year old obese woman as case study. The authors of the study discussed how the woman was encouraged to begin an exercise program (low-impact), in order to lose weight and, thus, prevent the appearance of plantar fasciitis in the future.
Another study, published in 2014 as well, in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, discussed obesity and its connection with plantar fasciitis. The authors presented weight loss education & counseling, among the preventative measures for this condition. They highlighted that one must engage in both physical exercise and nutritional changes, so as to reach an optimal weight and reduce the tension on the plantar fascia.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition which can be treated but it takes a lot of effort and hard work to succeed. Moreover, as long as the causative factors are not addressed, the condition is bound to reoccur. In such situations, prevention is the key, especially since it requires working on the above-mentioned causative factors. From simple measures, such as wearing well-fitting shoes to more complex matters, such as losing weight, prevention can make the difference between a healthy plantar fascia and one that is constantly in tension, suffering from micro-tears and inflammation.