Plantar fasciitis is a complication in the foot that leads to pain in the heel. It affects the thick tissue band connecting the heel bone to the toes, which is called the plantar fascia. When this tissue is inflamed, it can cause a stabbing pain. The pain typically presents at its worst in the morning, gradually decreasing throughout the day. However, it can return after long periods of standing and after exercising. While there is treatment available for plantar fasciitis, most individuals would rather not have the condition in the first place.
One of the key ways to help prevent plantar fasciitis from developing is being aware of and taking action against the risk factors linked to it. With this in mind, get familiar with what can increase an individual's risk of developing plantar fasciitis now.
Because plantar fasciitis is a foot condition, it makes sense that active jobs that keep individuals on their feet could lead to increased stress on the foot and pain. Constantly bearing weight and pressure puts a lot of stress on the tissues and it can quickly morph into a chronic condition after extended periods. Factory workers, teachers, those who work in shops, and construction workers commonly experience problems with their feet. Individuals who must stand or walk on hard surfaces for long periods are also at an unusually high risk of developing plant fasciitis-related pain. Like individuals who have structural issues with their feet, changing careers may not be an option. To cope with the stress a job puts on their feet, individuals should stretch their calves, exercise the foot regularly, wear supportive footwear, and add insoles when needed to provide some extra cushion.
Types Of Exercise
Any activity that puts lots of stress on the heel and the tissue attached to it can increase an individual's risk of and even directly cause plantar fasciitis. Although many types of exercise can lead to heel pain, running is the most common. The injury results when the tissue in the foot over-stretches like a spring and fails to return to a normal length. Though some individuals may continue to engage in their regular physical activities when dealing with heel pain and plantar fasciitis, allowing it to heal properly will speed up the recovery process. Certain techniques and home therapies are great for facilitating this. To relieve pain and return the foot to proper health, individuals must lengthen, strengthen, and stretch the arch-supporting tissue. Calf stretches, foot writing, towel grabbing, and icing the area are simple yet effective ways to take care of heel pain and lessen the severity of plantar fasciitis.
Prolonged Running On Hard Surfaces
Individuals may develop plantar fasciitis if they often engage in prolonged running on hard surfaces. Certain kinds of exercise, especially repetitive and high-impact exercises like running, can increase their overall risk. Hard surfaces will increase the impact as each foot strikes the ground. If individuals overdo it, they may injure their muscles, tendons, and joints. Plantar fasciitis is just one condition to worry about. Typical hard surfaces include treadmills, asphalt, gym floors, and hard-packed dirt. If an individual's usual run takes them over hard surfaces, they should invest in a pair of shoes that incorporate copious shock-absorbing technology. Proper shock absorption makes a huge difference in caring for their feet, knees, and calves.
Worn-Out Or Improperly Fitting Shoes
Plantar fasciitis is most commonly seen in runners, particularly runners with worn-out or improperly fitting shoes. If individuals have worn-out shoes they wear for multiple hours on their feet each day, they have a higher chance of developing plantar fasciitis whether or not they run. Shoes should provide adequate support for an individual's feet. For runners, their shoes should be secure, have room for their toes to move, and cushion the shock of each stride. For those who work manual labor, retail, or food service, their shoes should keep their feet comfortable when they're standing for hours or maneuvering heavy objects. Beyond plantar fasciitis, improperly fitting shoes also increase the risk of overall foot, ankle, and knee injury.
Certain sports can increase an individual's risk of developing plantar fasciitis, particularly if they engage in them without adequate support or rest. If individuals overuse their muscles, they'll be more susceptible to injury. Running of any kind is obviously high on the list. But other sports that place stress on the tissue attached to the heel should be noted as well. Many ballet dancers who perform multiple leaps and jumps in their routines can develop plantar fasciitis because of the impact on their heels. Any kind of exercise-related jumping can cause impact problems. Aerobic dance also has the potential to increase heel stress. Individuals should pay attention to their feet and use cushioning to avoid early-onset plantar fasciitis.
Individuals who are overweight or obese are always at a higher risk of developing problems with their feet. This is because of the extra weight and stress it puts on their muscles and tissues. While most cases of plantar fasciitis heal within a few weeks, patients who are obese are more likely to experience chronic plantar pain. The problem can easily become a long-lasting issue that dramatically reduces an individual's ability to walk for an extended period. Furthermore, heel pain is often cited as a big reason for an overweight individual's inability to lose weight through exercise. It's difficult to engage in most cardiovascular activities when the pain in the foot is strong and chronic, though swimming and cycling are great alternatives in such cases.
Although plantar fasciitis can arise without an obvious cause, certain age groups are more likely to develop it than others. Plantar fasciitis most commonly develops when an individual is between forty and sixty years old. But why is this?
Well, heels have a pad of fat that protects them and absorbs the shock when individuals walk or run. As the body grows older, the thickness of this fat decreases, which puts more pressure on the tissue. This chronic pain can also affect the elderly, as the muscles in the calves become weaker and tighter as individuals progress through life. The inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis can cause severe problems with walking and moving, warranting wearing orthotic implants.
Tight Achilles Tendons
Tight Achilles tendons can cause individuals to develop plantar fasciitis. Several scenarios can cause the Achilles tendon to tighten. Some individuals may have naturally tighter Achilles tendons. The tendon may also become tighter and harder to stretch if individuals wear heels for prolonged periods. Runners may find their Achilles tendon becomes tight and sore after long-distance running or short-distance sprinting. If individuals overuse their Achilles tendon, they may develop Achilles tendonitis. This occurs commonly in runners who have increased their run duration or intensity. Individuals with Achilles tendonitis may also develop plantar fasciitis due to the overuse of their leg muscles.
Overpronation increases an individual's risk of developing plantar fasciitis, especially if they're a runner. It also increases an individual's risk of ankle and knee injuries. When someone overpronates, their arch collapses inward or downward beyond the normal range. This is also commonly called flat feet. Individuals who overpronate may notice the arch of their foot doesn't leave the ground when they stand on flat feet. Normal pronation allows the body to transfer weight from the heel to the forefoot with each stride. If individuals pronate normally, they won't be at an increased risk of injury. Overpronation can often be corrected by getting stable footwear. In serious cases, affected individuals might want to talk to an orthopedist about how to stabilize their feet.
Genetics And Foot Structure
Unfortunately, no one can help what genes they inherit and the basic structures of many body parts. This is just as true for the foot like any other part of the body. Genetics and foot structure can play a huge role in foot pain, particularly with plantar fasciitis. Being flat-footed is one of the main risk factors for developing the condition, as the weight is not adequately supported by the correct parts of the foot. Having a distinctively high arch or even having an abnormal gait will also affect the way weight is distributed and which parts of the foot bear the pressure.
In addition to the stretches and exercises mentioned previously, individuals who suffer from flat feet, high arches, or any other unfixable physical states should take care to wear properly supportive footwear, particularly when exercising. Cushioned implants can be added to the shoes to assist with support and weight distribution as well.