Two basketball players making a playAs we watch college basketball this month, we may decide to hit the court to relive our glory days. While getting exercise is a great idea for your health, if you haven't played basketball in awhile or even if you have and you're over 40 you may be putting yourself at risk for plantar fasciitis or worse. Take Gonzaga forward Killian Tillie for example; he ended up the season with a torn plantar fascia.

March Madness is a good reminder about the risks for plantar fasciitis. These are:

  • playing high impact sports and running

  • a BMI or body mass index over 30 kg/m2

  • pronated foot posture

  • tight calf muscles

  • older athletes (over 40)

Keep in mind that any combination of these risks can lead to plantar fasciitis. The more risk you have the greater your chance for developing this condition.

Let's take a look at each one of these risks and how they add up.

Playing High Impact Sports and Running

Plantar fasciitis is common in basketball players and runners due to the force generated on the foot and plantar fascia when participating in these sports. If you play basketball or run, add +1 to your risk for plantar fasciitis.

BMI Over 30 kg/m2

For every extra pound of weight, seven pounds of force is placed on the foot when playing sports. College basketball and professional players tend to be very big people with a lot of excess weight even if that weight is muscle. For weekend warriors who are carrying excess weight over 30 kg/m2 the risks can be even greater since many are older and not in great physical shape. However, keep in mind a BMI in excess of 25 kg/m2 can also place you at greater risk for heel pain. If you have a BMI over 30 kg/m2, Add +1 to your risk for plantar fasciitis.

Pronated Foot Structure

You may have been born with flat feet or have developed a low arch as you've gotten older. Either way you're very likely to have a foot that pronates or falls inward when you walk, run, or play basketball. People with a low or flat foot that pronates are more likely to put strain on their plantar fascia and develop plantar fasciitis. If you have flat feet or a lower arch, add +1 to your risk for plantar fasciitis.

Tight Calf Muscles

You may be blessed with a flexible body and loose calf muscles. But for many people who play sports tight calf muscles can result from participating in that sport. And unfortunately tight calf muscles also play a role in the development of plantar fasciitis. If you have tight calf muscles, add +1 to your risk for plantar fasciitis.


If you're over 40, your body is not going to bounce back like it used to in your 20s and 30s. People over 40 are more likely to get plantar fasciitis. If you're over 40, add +1 to your risk for plantar fasciitis.

While not all of these risks are equivalent, the more of them you have the greater the chance for developing plantar fasciitis.

To reduce your risk for developing this common foot problem do the following:

Test Your Shoes for Stability

Wearing stable shoes that are designed for the sport you play is essential to preventing plantar fasciitis.

  • Test your shoes for stability (video)

  • Purchase shoes after every 500 miles of use - worn out shoes cannot provide the same level of stability.

  • Get your feet measured-as adults our feet often get bigger as we age, so in addition to having your kids foot measured you should get your feet measured as well.

  • Buy the right shoe for the activity - high tops have been the shoe of choice for many years in pro leagues, but more recently basketball trainers are advocating a lower cut shoe that strengthens the ankle, forcing the muscle to stabilize the joint. Taping your ankles can also help with stability. Purchase running shoes if you're a runner, tennis shoes for tennis, and so forth.

  • Check out my blog, "How to Buy the Best Running Shoes".

Warm up

  • Weekend warriors are much more likely to get injured because they don't keep their bodies strong and flexible.

  • Be sure to warm up before you start hitting the court or running. Jogging in place and doing some calf stretches will help.If you're a runner, it's best to use dynamic warm-ups.

  • If you have very tight calf muscles you'll need to use a device to stretch for a sustained period of time. The Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City recommends this type of device for all of our patients who already have plantar fasciitis. To learn more about this, click on calf stretches in the last bullet.

Wear Orthotics or Inserts

  • If you have flat feet or low arches and pronate it's important to wear an insert or orthotic.

  • For some people wearing an OTC insert will be enough to keep plantar fasciitis at bay, however, if OTC inserts aren't working for you you'll probably need a custom orthotic.

If you've followed my recommendations and you still have pain, call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. We'll often appoint you the same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

For more information about heel pain in runners download our eBook, "The Complete Guide to Stopping Heel Pain in Runners".

In addition, our newsletter "Foot Sense" comes out monthly.  You can also check out our past issues. Every issue contains a mouth-watering recipe and can be printed out for easier reading!

Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.

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