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How to Prevent and Treat Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tough fibrous band of tissue that runs the length of the bottom of your foot. You may feel the pain after you walk but not necessarily when you walk. Have you ever felt pain in the bottoms of your feet first thing in the morning that seems to get better as the day wears on? Those first ten steps you take in the morning are usually the most uncomfortable.

Many activities can cause plantar fasciitis:

  • Over-training

  • Misalignment of the foot

  • Walking on hard surfaces

  • Doing a lot of hill or speed training, and generally stressing tight hamstring and calf muscles

  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes

So the first thing you can do, even before your arches feel strained or pained, is check your shoes. Is there enough bend at the ball of the foot? Are they wide enough? Are they flexible and not overly built up through the arch? Switch your shoes if the answer to any of these questions is no.

Another way to prevent fasciitis and a host of other maladies is to keep your hamstrings and calf muscles loose and flexible. If you’re prone to fasciitis flare-ups, stay off hard surfaces whenever possible, avoid hills, and cross-train with non-weight-bearing activities like cycling and swimming.

This injury responds well to ice and elevation. Immediately after walking, ice your feet for 10 to 20 minutes or plunge your feet into a bucket of ice water. When you’re done, prop your feet up for a few minutes. Foot massage may offer some additional relief.

A physician may recommend taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin to reduce swelling, but don’t self-medicate, especially if you have allergies or other medical conditions.

Over-the-counter arch supports and heel cups may help you in the short term, but inevitably you’re going to have to seek a more permanent solution, such as podiatrist-designed and fitted inserts called orthotics; these correct weight distribution along the foot.

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