What is plantar fasciitis?
You know it's heel pain, but did you know it's caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia that connects your heel to your toes? It often presents itself in the morning, or after resting, and becomes more painful over time, says Reid.
Plantar fasciitis causes.
Surprise! It turns out that while plantar fasciitis can have many causes—including age, weight gain, a rapid increase in exercise, or wearing the wrong shoes—71 percent of those who wear high heels experience sole struggles, according to a recent AMPA survey. "Those with flexible, flat feet or a high arch are more commonly affected," says Reid, who estimates that about 40 percent of her clients are diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. Calcium deposits in the heel bone, often known as a heel or bone spur, may also be the root cause, as this would lead to more strain on the ligaments that stretch across the underside of the foot.
The best plantar fasciitis shoes.
Step one if your heel hurts: Squeeze your sneaks. "Press on the back of your shoe near the heel—it should be firm to help stabilize your heel. If it's not, try a new pair or invest in a heel cup insert," Reid suggests. Fourteen percent of plantar fasciitis patients stated in a recent study that a sneaker swap was the treatment that worked best to relieve their pain. Before you head to the mall, check out a list of American Podiatric Medical Association–approved footwear.
Plantar fasciitis treatment.
If you experience heel pain for three months or more, and rest and new sneakers don't do the trick, make an appointment with a podiatrist. "If you receive treatment early on, it's easier to alleviate the pain and prevent a recurrence," says Reid. Most often, the doc will fit you with custom orthotics that you can pop into your regular shoes. Severe plantar fasciitis cases may require foot taping, a stint in a soft boot, nonsteroidal medications, or cortizone shots.
Plantar fasciitis stretches.
Unfortunately, there's no such thing as plantar fasciitis exercises that can prevent sore heels. A simple stretch can help ease the ache, though. Reid's recommendation:
- Cross right leg over left knee and grab toes with right hand.
- Press right foot toward right knee, then hold for three seconds.
- Release stretch and pull right foot away from knee.
- Repeat five times. Switch legs and repeat the same sequence.
Don't delay treatment.
If the severe heel pain appears out of nowhere, seek treatment from a podiatrist immediately. "Extremely athletic people can actually rupture their plantar fascia, which generally requires a few weeks with a boot and crutches to fully recover.