Running into Plantar Fasciitis – Heel the Pain!

Running into Plantar Fasciitis - Heel the Pain!

Have you ever suffered from plantar fasciitis? Not something I had heard of until recent years. Even as an avid runner it is not something I had experienced, that is until I went through a third pregnancy. The pain in my foot during pregnancy and for some time afterwards was excruciating.

I went on to discover that the plantar fasciitis arch pain that I was experiencing was caused by two things in this case:

  1. Changing from wearing heeled shoes with arch support to completely flat flip flops and sheepskin boots. Well a girl can’t waddle around pregnant in 6 inch heels can she?
  2. Being overweight, baby weight of course!

So What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is where the plantar fascia, a length of tissue that runs along the sole of your foot becomes stressed and swollen. This can occur from injury, an accumulation of smaller injuries over time or it can be caused by ailments such as arthritis.

When is there a risk of plantar fasciitis heel pain?  
Whilst men can get plantar fasciitis it is more prevalent in women.  It is a condition that can appear as you age of if:

  • You are overweight
  • You are on your feet for a lot of your day
  • Overuse from sports such as running, dancing and gymnastics
  • You suddenly increase the intensity of your exercise
  • You switch from wearing heeled shoes to flats
  • You have flat feet or high arches
  • You suffer from arthritis
  • You have tight Achilles tendons

What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms are still all too fresh to me and have been brought to light again very recently. No, not me this time but my 14 year old son. He is an Acrobatic Gymnast and came to me complaining of foot pain just last week.

The pain runs along the bottom of his foot and is often much worse after resting. He is experiencing what they call “first step” pain in the morning.

Plantar fasciitis arch pain usually alleviates after walking for several minutes as the tissue becomes warm and lengthens again.

The pain can also be worse after intense periods of activity, particularly in bare feet or ill-fitting shoes.

The pain is often worse at the heel where the tissue joins to the heel bone.

Well, this explains my son’s condition and how it has come about. Hours of gymnastics training in bare feet with high impact landings. This is why you often see gymnasts icing their feet after competitions or wearing tape around their feet during training.

What are the Plantar Fasciitis Treatments?
Most cases of plantar fasciitis will clear up in approximately a year, so it is a slow process.  These things can help the process:

  • Heel Pad – used to cushion the painful heel, particularly if you have to spend a lot of your day on your feet.
  • Orthotics – Orthotic insoles can offer support to the arch of the foot to prevent the plantar fascia from shortening. Childrens insoles or orthotics is what I need to get my son on the road to recovery.
  • Pain Relief – Gel, spray, liquid or tablet forms of anti-inflammatory pain relief will ease the symptoms.
  • Stretching – Exercises to lengthen the tissue carried out three to five times a day may be advised.
  • Massaging – Rolling a plantar fasciitis massage ball or even a cold bottle of water under foot is another way to help prevent the shortening of the tissue.
  • Ice – You may be advised to ice the bottom of the foot to reduce the swelling before going to bed. Not sure my son is going to be happy with that.
  • Ultrasound – Ultrasound treatment can be used, again to reduce inflammation and speed along the recovery process.
  • Steroid Injections and Plantar Fasciitis Surgery – These are really a last resort with only 1 in 20 suffers coming to this end. The symptoms of your plantar fasciitis arch pain would have to be truly debilitating for these steps to be taken.

My symptoms cleared up over time using rest, massage and stretching. My plantar fasciitis massage ball was a god send. I do hope the it is going to be the same for my son, who simply can’t live without his sport. Patience with this very uncomfortable condition is certainly the key to recovery as well as good fitting shoes or at least shoes with childrens insoles or orthotic insoles.

Have you ever suffered from Plantar Fasciitis? What was the path to recovery that you took? Let me know in the comments.

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