If you've had heel pain you're not alone. Around two million people a year are treated for plantar fasciitis, the most common cause of heel pain. Although you can't change your foot structure, there are four risk factors that are under your control.
Overweight and obesity
Extra weight puts more force on the arch when walking causing it to flatten out to a greater degree than normal. The flattening pulls on the plantar fascia causing micro-tears that cause heel pain. Weight loss can play a large role in lowering your risk for developing plantar fasciitis.
Tight calf muscles
Tight calf muscles are commonly found in people with plantar fasciitis and are frequently part of the problem. If your calf muscles are tight you can reduce your risk for plantar fasciitis by stretching them on a daily basis. Although many people use the runner's stretch and think that's enough, for many people it isn't. For my patients who already have the condition I recommend using an Achilles splint for 30 minutes at least once a day while watching TV or reading. Using this method will help prevent the condition as well.
Lack of supportive shoes
For those prone to plantar fasciitis wearing the right shoes will make a huge difference in preventing a reoccurrence. Start in the morning when you first get out of bed. Never go barefoot. Instead slip your feet into a supportive pair of sandals such as the Vionic Unisex Wave Toe Post Sandal. For everyday wear make sure you buy shoes that provide good support and stability. To learn more about how to test shoes before buying, watch our video "How To Test Any Shoe for Stability".
Increasing training time too quickly
Runners and other athletes are at higher risk for plantar fasciitis due to the repetitive motion and greater pressure on the feet. To minimize your risk, build up your training time and distance slowly. Runners World recommends increasing your training time no more than 10-20% each week.
Risk factors that are out of your control are aging and faulty foot mechanics such as flat feet, a tendency to pronate, and high arches. Podiatrists such as Dr. Rion Berg at the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City are best suited to help you resolve problems with foot mechanics. Learn more by visiting our "Heel Pain Center of the Northwest" site.
Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment, often same day. You can also request an appointment online.
Download our eBook, "The Complete Guide to Stopping Heel Pain in Runners" for more information about preventing heel pain.
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.