While plantar fasciitis can affect anyone, it’s more common to see it impact those over the age of 60. Your plantar fascia wants to look out for you. It’s designed to absorb the high stress and strain we place on our feet while doing activities. If there’s too much pressure or weight on your plantar fascia, this can cause damage and tear the tissues, yikes! The body’s natural response to this is to produce inflammation. So, how do you function with plantar fasciitis and is exercise safe? Today, MoveU dives into the skinny to go over what you need to know about leading an active and healthy lifestyle with plantar fasciitis.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
According to John Hopkins Medicine, plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It is where the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot connecting your heel to your toes gets inflamed. What does this feel like? People say it feels like a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
There’s not a singular cause of plantar fasciitis as there can be multiple causes that add up together to cause this pain. However, inflammation in the heel can be caused by, but is not limited to the following:
- Sudden shift from a sedentary lifestyle to a very active one.
- Improper shoes.
- Tight calf muscles.
- Prolonged standing.
- Flat feet or high arches.
- Medical issues (less common).
- Biomechanical issues, such as poor foot function.
How Do You Know If You Have Plantar Fasciitis?
If your plantar fascia gets inflamed, you will notice it. You might feel pain, such as a burning sensation in your heel. This pain can develop over time or flare up after certain activities. Your pain could also vary according to the weather, time of day (it sometimes flares up for people early in the morning after they get up and walk around), and footwear (contrary to popular belief shoes with a lot of support aren’t necessarily going to reduce your pain – they can even make it worse).
Should You Exercise with Plantar Fasciitis?
Here’s the truth, deciding to stop exercising and doing the activities you love because you were told it will help fix plantar fasciitis is not helpful. You know what will help plantar fasciitis? Strengthening the muscles in your feet! And what helps you strengthen those muscles? Doing exercises that will best support your feet into proper alignment.
Sure, you can use a lacrosse or golf ball to roll out your plantar fascia for temporary relief, but learning how to strengthen the muscles in your feet is the only long-term solution. We suggest doing both. Roll out the bottoms of your feet for about 2 minutes a day and then follow it up with some foot strengthening exercises.
You have 10 muscles on the bottom of your feet, and more in your lower legs, that all work together to lift and stabilize your arches. Unfortunately, the advent of cushiony shoes has stopped our feet from working. What that means is your toes, arches, and lower leg muscles have stopped doing their job, or stopped supporting your feet.
You need to learn how to gently grip the floor to create a strong arch! Strengthening your lower leg and foot muscles will help stabilize your ankle, reduce pain, and kick plantar fasciitis to the curb. If you need more help doing so and someone to hold you accountable, you can always check out our online program to fix your feet.
Stretch Before You Exercise
While learning to strengthen your feet, we recommend stretching before you exercise. Stretch out your calves and feet and warm up your toes, feet, and ankles before doing any activities. If you do a lot of high intensity, high impact activities and they are causing you more pain, rest your feet and focus on the strengthening activities above before getting back into those.
Strengthen Your Arches
We’ve said it above and we will say it again: you need to strengthen your arches naturally. Don’t rely on orthotics and “arch support” shoes. Learn to stabilize your feet while exercising and be mindful of the role your feet play while being active.
Control Your Feet
Are your feet moving around like crazy while you’re doing a deadlift? If so, you’re probably not practicing any control or stabilization. If you’re not engaging your feet while working out in the gym, you are compensating in other areas like your knees and back, which can cause a lot of issues for you in the future. Your big toes help you engage your glutes as well, so you’re missing out on solid glute activation if you’re a toe flutterer.
Fun fact: When you properly engage the arch of your foot and drive your toes into the ground (especially that big toe), you get more glute activation! Be sure to avoid Claw Toes!
What Shoes Should You Wear if You Have Plantar Fasciitis?
One of the best ways to prevent plantar fasciitis is by wearing barefoot shoes, such as our tried and true favorites Vivobarefoot. As traditional footwear either has a heel, is too narrow, or squishes your toes together, it’s not the best option for someone who suffers from plantar fasciitis, and if we’re being honest, anyone. The muscles in your feet don’t need to work as hard in shoes like this which reduces foot strength, mobility, and flexibility. Vivo’s wide, thin, and flexible shoes promote foot movement, which builds strength. Check out their study on this test.
How to Find Immediate Relief from Plantar Fasciitis
We mentioned this above, you can roll out your plantar fasciitis with a golf ball, tennis ball, or lacrosse ball for some instant relief. However, if you want to fix your plantar fasciitis for good, learn how to properly strengthen your feet. How can you do this? Enroll in the MoveU Membership to get a step-by-step guide.