Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis
If you're suffering from persistent foot pain, you may have a condition called plantar fasciitis. Plantar Fasciitis is marked by a stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel, and is generally worse with the first steps you take in the morning. It can also be much more noticeable after long periods of rest, such as at a desk or while traveling, and the pain can range from mild to unbearable.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the foot fascia. Fascia, in simple terms, is connective tissue. The tissue on the bottom of your foot that connects your heel to your toes is called your plantar fascia. Repeated use and overuse can cause inflammation of the fascia, which leads to varying levels of discomfort and pain. Foot pain can be debilitating, not only because it creates a distraction that can be difficult to deal with, but also because pain causes us to make adjustments to our gait. Plantar fasciitis can affect the whole gait cycle, and a compromised gait cycle can quickly result in further problems, such as knee, hip and back pain.
Plantar fasciitis is extremely common. Statistics show that about ten percent of people in the U.S. have experienced heel pain at some point, and that's because there are so many risks factors involved in developing it.
Risk Factors for Developing Plantar Fasciitis
Running & Other Athletics
Plantar fasciitis is highly common in athletes who compete in high-impact sports such as running. Overdoing hill or speedwork exercises puts athletes at a higher risk for developing plantar fasciitis, but even generally spending a lot of time on your feet - whether you're standing, hiking or running - can significantly increase your risks for developing heel pain. Working in a job that requires excessive walking or standing on a hard surface for long periods of time will overload the plantar fascia just as much as a poorly planned hill sprint.
Whether you put extra stress on your feet everyday because you're running or because you're carrying excess weight, the end result for plantar fasciitis is the same. Carrying excess weight places additional strain on your connective tissues, and the pressure isn't just limited to your feet. For every extra pound you're carrying, you put four extra pounds of pressure on your knee joints. Carrying excess weight from fat over long periods of time results in more foot pain and quicker breakdown of cartilage and connective tissues.
Sometimes, pain is simply the result of poor biomechanics. Whether you have high arches, flat feet, tight calves or a tight Achilles, the very structure of your foot can cause chronic pain. If you under- or over-pronate significantly, your overall gait will be impacted, which can lead to plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, bunions and more - but can also result in a cascade of pain that runs from your feet all the way to your upper back and neck.
In addition to other risk factors, you could be increasing your incidence of developing plantar fasciitis with the wrong footwear. Whether or not you're already prone to heel pain from lifestyle or genetic factors, choosing the wrong shoes is guaranteed to negatively impact your gait.
When you wear shoes that don't provide adequate support, particularly if you require it, your plantar fascia is forced to withstand more strain than is healthy.
Reducing the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
Stretching in the morning, as well as before and after exercise is a great place to start when looking to alleviate the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
Stretching increases blood flow to promote healing and reduces discomfort as part of a daily routine.
Stretch Your Calves
Tight calves are a significant contributor to plantar fasciitis. When your calves or Achilles are tight, your connective tissues will also be strained. Stretching your calves several times a day to loosen your calf muscles will help to relieve pressure that's placed on your connective tissues.
Stretch Your Feet
Bending toes backward, point-and-flex exercises and rolling your ankle can all help to stretch the small muscles in your feet associated with heel pain. Improving your foot flexibility can help to manage inflammation, and is generally effective particularly when paired with other therapies.
A quick and gentle self-massage can feel great and encourage your foot muscles to relax and become more flexible. If you're in pain first thing in the morning, like many people suffering from plantar fasciitis, we recommend performing self-massage before your feet hit the floor is a great way to get ahead of your heel pain. Receiving a deep tissue massage from a professional can help to loosen fascia, tendons and ligaments that have become too tight to alleviate at home. Additionally, using a spiky massage ball or massaging with ice can help to roll out tight fascia and decrease inflammation and irritation.
The American Physical Therapy Association pointed out that non-invasive therapies such as footwear with foot orthoses are recommended as the main interventions for plantar fasciitis.
The orthosis of the shoe adjusts the foot to the proper position to control the gait cycle, and helps to support the arch of the foot and eliminate the pressure caused by running, walking or standing. GECKOMAN provides arch support series products, including widely acclaimed arch support slippers, insoles, slip-on shoes, etc.