Plantar fasciitis can be a tricky thing to deal with and for some people it persists for months or years. Let’s review the symptoms, the causes and what to do to get relief.
When your feet start hurting, you might be racking your mind trying to figure out what happened.
And it might feel like your feet just decided to betray you. But if you look back at the past couple of weeks or months, you can often identify some changes that may have triggered what you’re dealing with now.
Two of the biggest indicators to look at are training volume changes and lifestyle changes.
Training volume is a combination of intensity, duration, load, and frequency – or, how difficult, how long, how heavy, and how often you’re training.
The body is pretty incredible at adapting given enough time and recovery to adapt. But all too often we make a big change, and the body can’t keep up.
Take a look back at the past few months and see if you can identify any changes in the way you train.
Changes in your pattern of exercise can actually be a good thing (e.g., cross training to reduce injuries, adding in lifting to build strength), but if it’s too much too fast, then injury can occur.
Something that’s often missed that can have a big impact on pain and injury is any significant changes in your life or lifestyle. To the body, stress is stress. That is, all types of stress (whether physical or mental, etc.) tax the body, making withdrawals from your “body budget.”
And if a change here causes you to overdraw day after day (leaving your body with fewer resources to put towards recovery), then injury can occur.
Do a review of your major stressors over the past few weeks and months and see what stands out.
Sometimes the changes can more gradual. If over the last several years or decades you’ve let fitness slip and put on a few pounds, even the simple rigor of daily activities can compound until you’re struggling with plantar fasciitis.
Did you know that the plantar fascia helps to support our whole bodyweight when we take a step?
The problem is – it’s not meant to do that alone.
Muscles and tendons in the foot and calves play a supportive role as well. And if they’re too weak, then more stress gets tossed on the plantar fascia.
And the heavier we are (whether that’s fat or muscle), the more stress with each step, so maintaining a healthy bodyweight is helpful here too.
What to do about it
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then what should you do?
There are a few different things to look at:
What did you find when you looked at your training volume and are there any changes you might make?
Simple changes can go a long way in helping your body recover and adapt. You probably don’t need to stop running or doing other exercise you love. Just modify and build up more slowly.
What turned up in your life/lifestyle review? Can you modify anything here?
This is usually one of people’s first go-to’s, but it often exacerbates things in the long-term and leaves less time to do things that have a bigger impact.
Check out this article that does a deeper dive into why stretching won't give you the benefits you think it will (with references for the science-nerds).
Strengthen, Strengthen, Strengthen.
Building up strength and coordination in your feet, your calves, and your hips/core make the biggest long-term impact for dealing with plantar fasciitis once and for all.
Strength training will improve your body’s ability distribute force appropriately, so that the plantar fascia doesn’t have to take all the load.
You'll hear a lot about orthotics, stretching, massage, injection, surgeries, etc. All of these can somewhat help in the short-term with symptoms, but they don't fix the problem.
Exercise addresses the root cause and is the only thing that will solve the problem forever.
We hope this information helps, and that you can get on your way to getting some relief and getting over plantar fasciitis!
If you need more help, we’ve created a step-by-step program to guide you from turning down the pain to beating plantar fasciitis once and for all! You can learn more HERE. (Use the code ENDPAINNOW to get 15% off)
Or you can schedule a FREE consult with one of our experts, who will help you figure the next right steps for your health, by clicking RIGHT HERE.