How to Avoid Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis plagues many people from all walks of life:  gym rats, weekend warriors, overweight populations, and seemingly just the average Joe and Jane.  You’re not sure why or how the bottom of your foot burns from not doing anything outrageous, but it just does. 

Plantar fasciitis

Let’s talk about what plantar fascia is.  The plantar fascia is a thick, fibrous band of connective tissue that runs from the calcaneus (heel) toward the base of each toe.  It spreads out into three bands on the bottom of your foot to help support the middle arch.  When you don’t have enough elasticity in this tissue as it spreads and recoils naturally during movement, micro tears occur causing the burning sensation aka plantar fasciitis. 

Injuries like plantar fasciitis often result from overuse, it doesn’t happen after one game of tennis or kickboxing class.  Over weeks and months, the tears begin to occur until one day you feel the sharp pain when you stand up in the morning or after standing for a long period of time.  My clients don’t realize plantar fasciitis is self-inflicted from a lack of foot and Achilles mobility.  To often people rush into a workout or sports activity without properly warming up.  As you age, lack of warm up time catches up to you with nagging injuries like plantar fasciitis.  Even then, some people are to stubborn to adjust their routines and are forced to stop exercising for weeks or months.  When one part of the body is hurt, other surrounding joints and muscles compensate for the injury leading to more injuries and dysfunction. 

Standing calf stretch

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) says to focus on increasing ankle mobility through myofascial release on the bottom of your foot and stretching the calf muscles.  Myofascial release is using a tool such as a foam roller, to roll and apply pressure on the tight and affected areas.  Using a baseball, for example, by rolling your foot and applying pressure on the ball can help restore mobility.  Also using a foam roller and stretching your calf muscles before and after exercise and physical activity improves flexibility of the ankle to alleviate pain symptoms. 

Foam rollers

Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include limited mobility in the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon (Hedrick, 1996), excessive impact forces (overuse), an everted foot type (Patel, & DiGiovanni, 2011), increased body mass index in a nonathletic population, and insufficient ankle mobility.  If you fall into any of these categories, it’s best you take a few minutes as I mentioned, and reduce your chance of injury through proper self-care.  People are always in a rush and don’t spend enough time for warm up and cool down.  I was one of those people until studying more about corrective exercise and becoming a personal trainer in 2008.  Now in my mid 40’s, taking the extra few minutes pays off by keeping myself in the best shape of my life.

To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!

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