While plantar fasciitis is very treatable, it's always better to prevent it from happening in the first place. Many of the tools I already described in the last video on how to treat plantar fasciitis are also extremely important in preventing it from occurring or recurring.

It's important to note that if you've already had plantar fasciitis and healed from it, you're at a much higher risk of getting it again. That's because you very likely to still have several risk factors that caused you to develop it in the first place, namely, poor biomechanics, tight calf muscles, and a high activity level. Any one of these factors can lead to heel pain.

How to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis From Recurring

To keep plantar fasciitis from developing or coming back, it's important to follow these steps.

Wear Your Orthotics All the Time to Keep Plantar Fasciitis from Coming Back

First, if you have plantar fascitis, you very likely have custom orthotics. Your orthotics keep your feet balanced and aligned. However, they won't do you any good if you aren't wearing them. Sometimes patients will wear them for a while or only wear them when they're physically active, but that's a mistake. Wearing them all the time ensures that your plantar fascia, the ligament that's affected at the bottom of the heel is not overstressed.

Also, if your orthotics are over three years old and you gain weight or are experiencing foot pain, you may need a new pair of orthotics. While your orthotics can still help you for longer than three years, it depends on your level of activity and pain is a clear sign that your current orthotics are no longer working for you. It's important to come in and get your feet reassessed. We need to determine whether the mechanics in your feet have changed.

Keep Stretching Your Calf Muscles to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis

Second, stretching is another critically important component of preventing plantar fasciitis flare-ups. If you were diagnosed with tight calf muscles by your podiatrist, you'll need to continue doing the stretches they provided.

If you have very tight calf muscles, I recommend using the an Achilles splint at least three times a week for 30 minutes.

You can also do static stretches daily. The length of time of these stretches is important. Each stretch should be held for at least 30 seconds.

If you're a runner, hiker, or involved in other sports, you'll also need to do dynamic stretching instead of just static stretches before you work out. These will help prepare your muscles for activity and reduce your risk for injury, including plantar fasciitis. Static stretches should be done after your workout.

Keep The Bottom of Your Feet Stretched

Tennis balls are also a great method for keeping the bottom of your feet stretched out while seated. Use a tennis ball to massage all the areas of your feet with special emphasis on your plantar fascia. Massage each foot for two to three minutes.

Keep Your Feet Strong to Prevent A Plantar Fasciitis Flare-Up

Towel curls can help strengthen your feet while seated, and with your feet on a towel, scrunch up the towel with your foot and your toes while your heel stays planted. Repeat 15 to 20 times with each foot for two to three sets.

Maintain A Healthy Weight

Gaining weight will add more stress to your feet and cause them to flatten out. It could also cause the need for new orthotics. Keeping at a healthy weight will help prevent heel pain.

Buy The Right Shoes to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis

Buying the right shoes will go a long way in preventing plantar fasciitis or a recurrence of this condition. It's important to purchase stable shoes, that support your arch, help keep your feet in the right alignment, and are designed for the particular sport you engage in.

how to buy shoes to prevent plantar fasciitisI've written an ebook called "How to Buy Shoes to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis". You'll find lots of recommendations for specific shoes in that book.

Here are some specific recommendations for buying running and athletic shoes that are also useful for buying any shoe.

Go to a reputable running store.

Stores that specialize in running shoes. will know a lot more about fitting your feet properly than stores that do not. Don't just rely on the salesperson to ask you all the right questions. Be prepared before you go in and bring the following information and items with you. Your current pair of orthotics, old running shoes, so the salesperson can look at the wear patterns. Your level of running experience, including number of miles per week, your foot mechanics and foot type--over pronation, flat feet or high arches, where your foot strikes the ground-- do you run on your heel or do you run on the ball of your feet? Although you might initially rely on experts to fit you with the best shoe, it's always best to get to know your own feet before buying shoes.

Go shopping later in the day.

Feet are most likely to swell at the end of the day. Shopping later in the day will help you so you don't buy shoes that are too small.

Get your feet measured.

Getting your feet measured to make sure that your size hasn't changed. When you try them there should be at least one thumbs width between the tip of your big toe and the end of the shoe. If one foot is larger than the other, buy it to fit the larger foot size.

Don't shop by price alone.

Just because a running shoe is more expensive doesn't mean it's better. A Danish website that ranks running shoes from runners found that expensive running shoes are no better and often worse then less expensive ones. Shoe companies create a variety of shoes for many different purposes and even for different types of runners. Finding the shoe that is right for you. Your foot type and how you run is very, very important.

Test your shoes for stability.

Remember, shoes should bend at the ball, not in the middle, and be difficult to twist from side to side. when you try to wring them out like a rag, and it should have a firm heel counter. True running shoes should pass this test easily. If not, keep shopping.

Replace worn-out shoes.

Shoes should be replaced every 400 to 500 miles. Most runners will need to replace their shoes every six months.

What Shoes To Avoid

While it's important to know how to find a supportive shoe, it's equally important to know what shoes to avoid.

  • Flat shoes. While ballet flats are all the rage, they're terrible choice for someone who is prone to plantar fasciitis. Instead of a flat shoe with no arch or support, a person with a tendency towards plantar fasciitis needs the opposite. Look for a shoe with a slight heel, one inch or less and good arch support.
  • Flip flops. While it's fine to wear flip-flops at the beach or the pool don't wear them for long walks or other activities. They're usually totally flat and have no support. Wearing them for extended periods can lead to heel pain.
  • Flexible shoes are what I call squishy, cushy shoes may feel comfy due to the cushy bottoms, but they provide little or no support through the arch and the ankle. It's important to balance comfort with support.
  • High heels and stiletto shoes. You know, high heels are bad, but you might wonder why. A high heel can shorten your calf muscle, putting even greater stress on the plantar fascia and putting you at risk for plantar fasciitis. If you tend to get heel pain, you must avoid going barefoot and wearing slippers all the time when you're at home. The best sandals we found are made by Vionic. They provide greater support for the arches in your feet.

Remember, you can test any shoe by using the guidelines I provided above. In conclusion, if you had plantar fasciitis before or you've been told you're at risk, it's important to follow the recommendations in this video to keep a flare-up at bay.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.