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What Kind of Lifestyle Changes Can I Make to Help My Plantar Fasciitis?

Most people aren’t aware of their plantar fascia until they develop the characteristic pain under the heel of their foot. 

The fascia is a tough band of tissue that stretches from the heel bone at the back of the foot to the toes, and it helps create your arch. Unfortunately, it’s prone to injury from repetitive motion and stress, such as hitting the pavement with each stride when you’re jogging.

The resulting injury is plantar fasciitis, and at Chicagoland Foot and Ankle, our board-certified podiatrists diagnose and treat this condition. Lifestyle changes can ease the pain and stiffness that comes with plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia ligament

As well as supporting your arch, the plantar fascia functions as a shock absorber for every step or jump you take. If you put too much pressure on the ligament, though, or stress it over a long period of time, that creates small tears that lead to inflammation and pain in the heel.

The pain is most often worse in the morning since the tissue tightens while you sleep. If you stretch it when you get up, you may relax it enough that the pain abates. If you have a severe case, though, the ligament may resist stretching, leaving you with pain and tenderness all day.

Major risk factors for plantar fasciitis

Stressing the fascia with movement is a major cause of plantar fasciitis, but you may have other contributing factors such as poor foot alignment and/or shoes that don’t fit well.

Certain people have an increased risk of developing the condition. You’re at risk if you:

If you leave plantar fasciitis untreated, you may develop complications. For example, you may alter your gait, which can lead to knee, foot, hip, and/or back problems.

You can tell if your shoes are a contributing factor to your plantar fasciitis with a simple visual inspection. Proper shoes should have:

Lifestyle changes to help plantar fasciitis

The first line of treatment for plantar fasciitis and other soft tissue injuries is the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, elevation. 

Stay off your feet for a short time to give the tissue the opportunity to repair the damage. You can encourage healing with ice packs to reduce pain and swelling, by wearing a compression sleeve to avoid unnecessary movement, and by elevating your foot above your heart to prevent fluid build-up. 

Over-the-counter oral or topical anti-inflammatories should help with the pain.

Your shoes should properly support your feet. Even a good shoe wears down over a few months, so if the sole is shot or there’s little arch support left, get a new pair.

When you return to your sport, warm up properly before activity and cool down afterward. Warming up primes your tissues for activity and aids healing when you’re through.

Consider physical therapy, which uses targeted stretches and exercises to strengthen and protect your legs and feet. If you’re in too much pain to engage in physical therapy, we can give you a steroid injection, which should relieve enough of the inflammation and discomfort to allow you to participate.

Are you struggling with heel pain and stiff foot ligaments? It’s time to come into Chicagoland Foot and Ankle to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Call any of our locations (Mount Greenwood and Portage Park areas of Chicago, as well as Orland Park and New Lenox, Illinois) to schedule an appointment, or book online today.

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