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Things to Avoid With Plantar Fasciitis

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By Babafemi Adebajo
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Edited by Kelli Harris

Updated January 30, 2024.

Athlete holding bare foot on the road after removing shoe

Plantar fasciitis results from micro-tears and a thickening of the plantar fascia. This tightening of the ligamentous band at the sole of the feet causes pain. Despite the pain and discomfort it causes, exercises and stretches will offer pain relief, are important in managing plantar fasciitis, and could even prevent it.

Along with rest, ice, and custom orthotics (inserts/insoles) for plantar fasciitis, the stretches and exercises help address the discomfort and inflammation. They also improve muscle strength and promote flexibility in the foot.

However, there are stretches and activities to avoid with plantar fasciitis. Not all exercises are helpful. Some will even make the pain and discomfort worse and should be abstained from totally. For example, a weight-bearing exercise that requires you to stand for long.

How to Know if You Have Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis causes significant pain and is easily self-diagnosable. While the exact presentation may vary from person to person, the symptoms of plantar fasciitis are classic.

It is often described as a dull, stabbing pain in the heel that worsens with prolonged sitting or lying down. It’s usually aggravated with the first steps of the morning and can cover the bottom of the whole foot.

A professional opinion from a medical doctor may also help ascertain your diagnosis. This will require the person to assess your foot for tender points. With just this, the cause of the pain can be identified.

How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis

The good news is that plantar fasciitis is treatable. The bad news is that sometimes, in the most severe cases, the full recovery may take as much as six months. Once you have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, the doctor or physiotherapist will prescribe several activities that will help improve the pain.

Plantar fasciitis treatment begins with getting off your feet (rest) and treating the inflamed foot with ice. Most plantar fasciitis will resolve with this. If it doesn’t, deep massage, simple exercises, and stretches can help improve the condition. Alongside these conservational treatment approaches, you can also use custom-made orthotic devices to bring pain relief.

What Makes Plantar Fasciitis Worse?

Left untreated, the symptoms of plantar fasciitis will worsen, and the condition will become complicated. This can lead to a plantar tear, plantar rupture, plantar fibromatosis, and heel spurs, all of which are not amenable to conservative treatment.

The following are activities or actions that could make plantar fasciitis worse:

  • Not getting the foot enough rest after the onset of symptoms
  • Participating in high-impact exercises
  • Walking without proper footwear or support
  • Adding extra weight
  • Avoiding treatment/ignoring the symptoms
  • Prolonged sleeping or sitting
  • Consuming excess sugar
  • High arches or flat feet
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Injury to the tendon in the leg, ankle, or foot

4 Plantar Fasciitis Myths Debunked

1. Walking makes plantar fasciitis better

Walking aggravates plantar fasciitis. Walking can make plantar fasciitis worse if it involves walking on hard surfaces, walking too fast, wearing ill-fitting shoes, or for prolonged periods. So, you should try to avoid walking with plantar fasciitis whenever possible.

While an outright rest may not be possible, you should cut back on any activity that makes your foot hurt. Consider standing for shorter periods and walking a lot less. You can also do some short stretches to prep your legs for periods of work and have an Epsom salt soak down afterward.

2. High heels are suitable for plantar fasciitis

Theoretically, a shoe with an elevated heel should reduce tension on the plantar fascia and thus reduce pain. In reality, high heel shoes increase the direct compressive force on your heel because they do not distribute your weight evenly. They also do not provide adequate support to your foot. Wearing crocs with plantar fasciitis, on the other hand, could be very beneficial.

3. Massage guns don't help plantar fasciitis

Yes, massage guns do help plantar fasciitis. Using massage guns on the heel produces vibrations and causes a deep massage effect. This relieves the tension in the tight fascia muscles and delivers more blood to the area, aiding healing and reducing inflammation.

4. Arch supports don't help plantar fasciitis

Flat feet will worsen plantar fasciitis, and so this should be avoided. Arch support helps you do just this, providing a cushioning effect and elevation to the foot. Insoles for flat feet can help with the arch support required to avoid this.

Final Words

Early diagnosis and management of plantar fasciitis will prevent avoidable complications. Stretches and exercises form a core part of that management plan, and while they’ll help pain relief, they must be approached with care. Properly performed, plantar fasciitis can be completely resolved.